Count the zeroes: Zimbabwe central bank allows banknote exchange

Zimbabwe’s central bank is allowing citizens to exchange bank notes from its old currency, which collapsed and was discarded years ago, for American dollars.

However, 1000 trillion Zimbabwean dollars will only fetch 40 U.S. cents. That is a fraction of what collectors have been paying for the notes with numerous zeroes for years.

Zimbabwe abandoned its currency for a system dominated by the U.S. dollar and South African rand after inflation hit 230 million percent. Street vendors didn’t even accept a $100 trillion note that was issued.

Starting Monday, stacks of Zimbabwean bills that might be kept by Zimbabweans can be exchanged for U.S. dollars. The officer is part of a plan by the central bank to phase out the currency entirely.

Some people in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, said they disposed of their Zimbabwean dollars long ago.

"I used it as garden manure," said Isaac Mutezowepasi, a street vendor. "Why would I have kept that dirt?"

Others said they still have heaps of old dollar notes at home, but won't respond to the government offer.

"I am keeping them for my grandchildren to see. Plus I know I will get more for them in future because these Zimdollars are going to be in demand," said Tendai Nyaundi, a graphic designer.

On e-Bay, at least five banknotes of 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollars were being sold for $159. Another post put five banknotes of $100 trillion at $173.99.

There have been calls to re-introduce the Zimbabwean dollar by some members of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party. They argued that the use of foreign currencies is responsible for the country's current liquidity problems.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has repeatedly said the U.S dollar "is here to stay."

The Associated Press contributed to this report