History of The Zimbabwe Dollar

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The history of the Zimbabwe dollar is a complex one, marked by significant economic challenges and periods of hyperinflation. The Zimbabwe dollar, introduced in August 1982, emerged as the official currency following Zimbabwe's independence from British colonial rule.

Colonial Era: The Rhodesian dollar

The Rhodesian dollar was the currency used in Rhodesia, a self-declared state in southern Africa that existed from 1965 to 1979. During this period, Rhodesia faced political and economic challenges due to its unilateral declaration of independence from Britain. The Rhodesian dollar was introduced in 1970 as a replacement for the Rhodesian pound, which had been the currency before that. The main reason behind the introduction of the Rhodesian dollar was to establish a distinct national identity separate from the British pound. However, the Rhodesian dollar faced significant economic difficulties and inflationary pressures. Rhodesia was subject to international sanctions imposed by the United Nations and other countries due to its unilateral declaration of independence, which further isolated the country economically.

The economic strain, coupled with political tensions and international pressure, ultimately led to the abandonment of the Rhodesian dollar. In 1979, negotiations between the Rhodesian government and various political parties resulted in an agreement known as the Lancaster House Agreement. This agreement paved the way for the establishment of Zimbabwe as an independent nation.

August 1980:Zimbabwe Dollar (ZWD)

As part of the transition to independence, a new currency, the Zimbabwean dollar, was introduced in 1980, replacing the Rhodesian dollar. The abandonment of the Rhodesian dollar marked a symbolic shift from the era of Rhodesia to the new era of Zimbabwe, reflecting the country's move towards majority rule and the end of the unilateral declaration of independence. The first Zimbabwean dollar replaced the Rhodesian dollar at par. The initial ISO 4217 code was ZWD.

Initially, the Zimbabwe dollar maintained relative stability, but the country encountered economic difficulties and inflationary pressures over the years. When the Zimbabwe dollar was initially introduced in 1980, its value against major currencies such as the British Pound, and United States dollar was relatively stable. At that time, the exchange rates were as follows:

  • Bulleted list item British Pound (GBP): The exchange rate between the Zimbabwe dollar and British Pound in 1980 was approximately 1 Zimbabwe dollar to 1 British Pound. This exchange rate reflected the initial parity between the two currencies.
  • Bulleted list item United States Dollar (USD): The exchange rate between the Zimbabwe dollar and the United States dollar in 1980 was approximately 1 Zimbabwe dollar to 1.4 USD. This exchange rate indicated that the Zimbabwe dollar had slightly less value compared to the US dollar.

By July 1997, Zimbabwe was grappling with economic challenges, including the need to address war veterans' pensions. The government faced significant financial strain in meeting these obligations, which further strained the country's economy.

Zimbabwe Inflation 2006 to 2008:

However, the most notable period in the history of the Zimbabwe dollar occurred between 2006 and 2008 when the country experienced hyperinflation. In an attempt to address economic issues, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe demonetised old banknotes in August 2006 and introduced a new currency. Each new Zimbabwe dollar was equivalent to 1000 old Zimbabwe dollars.

The hyperinflationary period witnessed a rapid devaluation of the currency, leading to the issuance of higher denominations at an alarming rate. In August 2007, the central bank authorised a 200 thousand-dollar denomination, with subsequent denominations following in quick succession. These included 250, 500, and 750 thousand dollars in December 2007, and 1, 5, and 10 million dollars in January 2008. As hyperinflation continued to escalate, the Zimbabwe dollar faced further devaluation. Additional denominations were introduced, such as 25 and 50 million dollars in April 2008, 100 and 250 million dollars in May 2008, and 500 million, 5 billion, 25 billion, and 50 billion dollars in May 2008. Finally, in July 2008, a 100 billion dollar note was issued. During this hyperinflationary period, the money supply in Zimbabwe increased exponentially, resulting in a profound devaluation of the currency. The economy suffered severe consequences, including shortages of essential goods, a collapse in the banking system, and a loss of confidence in the currency.

Multicurrency Regime: 2009-2019

In 2009, Zimbabwe's Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, decided to stop using the Zimbabwe dollar and instead introduced a system where people could use different foreign currencies (multicurrency regime). The most commonly used currency was the United States Dollar. This change was made because the Zimbabwe dollar had lost its value due to high inflation and economic problems. The performance of the multicurrency regime in Zimbabwe was mixed. The regime allowed the use of multiple foreign currencies, such as the United States dollar, South African rand, and Botswana pula, alongside the Zimbabwean dollar.

Bond Notes & Coins:

Bond Notes and Coins were introduced in November 2016 as an attempt to ease cash shortages in the country. They were officially pegged to the US dollar at a 1:1 exchange rate. The purpose was to increase liquidity and stimulate economic activity. However, concerns arose over the lack of confidence in the bond notes and their potential for fueling inflation. The outcomes of the introduction of Bond Notes and Coins were mixed. While they initially helped alleviate cash shortages, their value and acceptance gradually declined. The 1:1 peg to the US dollar became increasingly untenable as the country faced foreign currency shortages and economic imbalances.

Zimbabwe Dollar Reintroduced: Multicurrency Regime Temporarily Suspended:

The Zimbabwe dollar was reintroduced in June 2019, replacing the multicurrency regime. The initial value was set at 1:1 with the US dollar, but it quickly lost value. The argument for reintroducing the Zimbabwe dollar was to regain monetary sovereignty and have greater control over the country's currency. However, critics argued that the economy was not yet stable enough to support a reintroduction and that it could lead to hyperinflation and economic instability.

To date, the Zimbabwe dollar has fared poorly against other major currencies. It has experienced significant depreciation, with high inflation rates eroding its value. The exchange rate against the US dollar and other currencies has fluctuated widely on the parallel market, with significant disparities from the official exchange rate. When the Zimbabwean government reintroduced the Zimbabwe dollar, they decided to stop using the multicurrency system. However, this decision didn't work out well and caused problems. The value of the Zimbabwe dollar quickly dropped, and prices of goods and services started rising rapidly. People struggled to afford basic necessities, and the economy faced challenges.

The reintroduction of the Zimbabwe dollar led to widespread discontent and protests. Many argued that the country was not ready for its own currency and that the government should have maintained the multicurrency regime. Foreign currency became scarce, making it difficult for businesses to import goods and services. This further worsened the economic situation and caused even more hardships for the people. The move backfired because the Zimbabwe dollar was not well-supported by the necessary economic fundamentals. Inflation continued to rise, eroding the value of the currency. People lost confidence in the Zimbabwe dollar, and there was a growing sense of instability in the economy.

Multicurrency Regime Brought Back: Extended To 2030

The government had to bring back the multicurrency system in Zimbabwe in 2019. This meant that people could use foreign currencies along with the Zimbabwe dollar. The Finance Minister at that time, Mthuli Ncube, announced in 2023 that the multicurrency system would continue beyond the year 2025 when it was originally set to expire. The new plan was for the system to run until the year 2030.[1] This decision was made to help stabilize the economy and work towards the country's economic goals for the future. The extension followed confusion and uncertainty regarding the termination of the multicurrency regime in Zimbabwe although Minister Ncube had assured that the regime would continue beyond 2025. Banks stopped providing loans in United States Dollars (USD) due to concerns about what happened in 2019. During that time, USD bank balances were converted to Zimbabwean dollars with authorities claiming they had the same value as the USD. However, the Zimbabwean dollar later lost its value, leading to significant losses for depositors. As a result, people have lost confidence in the banking system, leading to a decline in bank deposits.

It is important to note that the economic situation in Zimbabwe is complex and subject to various factors, making it difficult to provide precise or up-to-date information on the current state of the Zimbabwe dollar. For the most accurate and current information, it is advisable to refer to reliable financial sources and consult experts in the field of Zimbabwean economics. PINDULA NEWS periodically update information on the Zimbabwe dollar. We get that information from the [[Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and other authorities.


  1. [1], PindulaNews, Published: 27 October 2023, Retrieved: 21 January 2024

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