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New Zimbabwe Notes Stir Memory of 500,000,000,000% Inflation

Zimbabwe’s tentative return to its own currency is getting a hostile reception from citizens, who fear a recurrence of the 500 billion percent inflation that plagued the southern African nation before it abandoned its dollar seven years ago.

The country will soon introduce so-called bond notes, pegged to parity with the U.S. dollar and beginning with denominations worth from $2 to $5, central bank Governor John Mangudya said on Wednesday. It’s an attempt to complement the range of foreign currencies used in the beleaguered economy since 2009, which have been in short supply following a collapse in exports.

James Sakupwanya, who sells items such as maize meal, tinned food and blankets from his shop in Mutare, southeast of Harare, isn’t buying it. Sakupwanya and Zimbabweans like him see the notes as a step back to the hated Zimbabwe dollar, which by the time of its demise was valued at 150 trillion to the greenback, according to the central bank.

 “We will reject it,” Sakupwanya said. “They can legislate as much as they want, but it is their currency which they want to impose on us to manage the crisis they created.”