Zimbabwe's fragile economic situation is lurching towards fresh depths amid indications that United States dollar denominations are disappearing from circulation. Hayley Platt reports.
It's well used to an economic crisis - but a shortage of cash is causing alarm among some in Zimbabwe. As these bank customers in Harare can testify. (SOUNDBITE) (Shona) FAITH DHERI, HARARE RESIDENT SAYING: "I've been here since 4am, my children are virtually starving, there is no food at home and the bank is saying there is no money." Zimbabwe adopted the U.S. dollar to control hyper inflation in 2009. And for a while it helped. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BANK TELLER, CHARLES SAKI, SAYING: "Everything changed overnight from the situation that we had known before and things were available in the shops, people had jobs and business was booming." The central bank is planning to introduce a new local currency in November - in the form of bond notes - to help. But instead it's creating uncertainly. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ECONOMIC ANALYST, NELSON BANYA SAYING: "Zimbabweans have terrible memories about having a local currency, so this basically reflects the declining confidence in the economy." Zimbabwe is desperate for international help. Last week it finally paid a 15-year-old IMF bill. But a new loan programme can't be considered until others debts are paid. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ECONOMIC ANALYST, ALFONCE MBIZWO SAYING: "Zimbabwe still has to pay off the World Bank over a billion dollars and the African Development Bank over 600 million dollars." Financial reforms are required too and there's no sign of those. That means Harare must continue spending 82 percent of its national budget on public sector salaries, while many Zimbabweans wonder where the next meal is coming from.