Cash-strapped Zimbabwe’s latest plan to have parents pay school fees in goats has got some Zimbabweans up in arms – but not everyone thinks it’s a bad idea.
“Parents of the concerned pupils can pay their fees using livestock,” education ministry permanent secretary Sylvia Utete-Masango was quoted as saying.
News of the new fees deal (which also includes encouraging parents in towns and cities to offer free labour at schools in lieu of hard cash) comes after Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa announced last week that banks could now accept goats, cattle, sheep and chickens as collateral for loans.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of worsening cash shortages that mean locals frequently spend hours in bank queues to withdraw cash.
Shops have just been ordered to reduce the amount of cash they allow card-holders to take as “cashback” to just $20, though many stores no longer offer this service.
News24 saw shoppers queuing for just $4 in cashback earlier this month. Most cashback is in the form of “bond notes”, a special-to-Zimbabwe currency that has no value outside the country, except perhaps to novelty hunters on Ebay.
President Robert Mugabe’s government says the cash shortages are due to people “externalising” hard cash (taking it out of the country) and retailers who refuse to bank their cash.
But critics say it’s to do with the lack of investment and years of low industrial production and rising unemployment inside Zimbabwe.
Hyperinflation wiped out Zimbabwe’s precursor to the bond note, the “bearer cheque”, in 2008-9.