Bank lending freeze only temporary, says central bank

11 May 2022

The freeze on bank lending in Zimbabwe is just a short-term measure aimed at containing inflation and stabilising the economy.

This is according to a statement by the governor of the central bank John Mangudya on state television.

Over the weekend, President Emmerson Mnangagwa ordered the freeze on lending to come into effect straight away. He said the action was in place to halt speculation against the Zimbabwean dollar, which has been quickly devalued on a flourishing black market. "Lending by banks to both the government and the private sector is hereby suspended with immediate effect, until further notice," Mnangagwa said in a statement.

"We know this is a painful, but necessary, measure. It was necessary because of the increase in inflation. Some entities were now using funds from banks to purchase foreign currency," the central bank governor told ZBC.

"It's a temporary, necessary measure to ensure that there is sanity in terms of taming inflation."

Inflation in Zimbabwe has started to surge once again, with year-on-year inflation in April at 96%, a rise from 61% at the start of the year. This is predominantly due to the rapid weakening of the local currency.

According to BancABC analysts, the lending freeze puts the survival of Zimbabwe’s banks in jeopardy: "The government is using a blunt approach to try and address a long-standing currency conundrum," the analysts said, adding: "Banning lending activities will threaten survival of Banks as this will wipe out 20-50% of their incomes."

The analysts added the freeze may result in shortages of goods, more price hikes and job losses.