AS schools opened this week it emerged that some rural school schools were allowing parents to pay school fees in the form of livestock such as goats and chickens due to the persisting cash crisis.
A teacher at Nhoro primary school in Marondera rural said desperate parents, unable to pay school fees for their children due to the prevailing cash challenges, pleaded with the school authorities to pay fees with goats and chickens.
“The school has accepted this form of payment as it is better than not paying anything. Other parents are asking if they can provide free labour at the school to offset their debts,” the teacher confirmed.
This comes after experts said villagers around the country have resorted to barter trade as a mode of payment for goods and services as the liquidity crunch continues to have a negative impact on both rural and urban people.
In its latest update on food security outlook titled; “Liquidity challenges spur bartering and continue to negatively impact terms of trade”, Famine Early Warning Systems Network reports that the rural folk have been hard-hit by the cash shortages despite the introduction of bond notes by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) last November.
“This is due to low levels of humanitarian assistance in areas where households are experiencing large consumption gaps,” Fewsnet said.
Even with the introduction of bond notes at the end of November, cash shortages still persist. Increasingly, barter trade has become a common mode of payment for goods and services, especially in rural communities,” the report.
Fewsnet said the situation would worsen in early January as the increase for non-food demands and opening of the 2017 school year put pressure on access to food for poor households.
“This situation is expected to worsen during the end of year festive season as well as the new school year in January 2017. The increase for non-food demands in the new school term will put pressure on access to food for poor households,” Fewsnet said.
“After the RBZ introduced bond notes to help ease cash shortages in the economy, the situation has not improved. The popular mobile money transfer platforms are increasingly being disabled due to cash shortages,” it said.
The cash challenges in the country are persisting despite the RBZ saying it has released into circulation $72, 9 million worth of bond notes since the surrogate currency was introduced last November.
The bond notes were introduced to tackle a US dollar shortage but bank queues have spilled into the New Year as demand for cash remains high.
In the cities, some schools were on Monday stopping children whose fees were not paid from boarding hired buses back to school. In Harare, some angry parents said the schools were being unreasonable because the cash crisis had affected everyone.