Zimbabwe’s Delta Beverages scraps hard currency payment plant after government intervention

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Delta Beverages, Zimbabwe’s largest brewing company part-owned by Anheuser-Busch Inbev, announced it has abandoned its plan to accept only hard currency payments to cope with a crippling shortage of U.S. dollars after the government intervened.

The company announced on 2 January 2019 that it would only take payments in U.S. currency and would no longer accept electronic dollars known as “Zollars” or a quasi-currency known as “bond notes”, amid a severe shortage of hard currency in Zimbabwe.

A joint statement released by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and Delta Beverages said “Delta withdraws the notice to sell its products exclusively in hard currency, in the spirit of the multi-currency framework”.

Zimbabwe’s Reserve bank said it would endeavour to provide the foreign currency required to ensure that Delta continues to trade “on the current basis”. The country’s currency crisis is undermining President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s efforts to win back foreign investors who were sidelined under his predecessor Robert Mugabe.

In an effort to tame hyperinflation, Zimbabwe abandoned its currency in 2009. However, there has been a severe shortage of physical notes causing dollars in bank accounts to lose value compared with cash. Zimbabwe began issuing ‘bond notes’ in late-2016, a strategy that was supposed to ensure the quasi-currency trades in parity with the U.S. dollar, but it wasn’t long before it devalued sharply on the street.

As inflation increased, the country recognised it had two currencies. The Reserve Bank ordered banks to separate dollars and the electronic “Zollars’ in customer accounts.

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