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Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa poses for photographs ahead of his maiden address to parliament/AFP

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New Zimbabwean president rules out early return to local currency

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa poses for photographs ahead of his maiden address to parliament/AFP

HARARE, Zimbabwe, Sept 18 – Zimbabwe’s new president on Tuesday ruled out an early return of the Zimbabwean dollar, toning down remarks by his finance minister that backed reintroducing the currency.

In an inaugural address in parliament marked by an opposition walkout, President Emmerson Mnangagwa pledged a raft of economic measures, including currency reforms and better forex availability.

But, he said, conditions had to be right before foreign currencies were replaced once more by the Zimbabwean dollar.

“My government shall continue with the use of the multicurrency system up until the current negative economic fundamentals have been addressed to give credence to the introduction of the local currency,” Mnangagwa said.

In 2009, wracked by hyper-inflation, Zimbabwe dumped the local dollar and adopted the US greenback and other foreign currencies, including the South African rand.

But the economy remains deep in the mire, crippled by policies adopted under Mnangagwa’s predecessor, Robert Mugabe.

On September 10, new Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said he backed a return of the Zimbabwe dollar, “the sovereign currency,” to help economic revival.

But, he said, this had to be done in conjunction with “fiscal policy”.

Lawmakers from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) boycotted Mnangagwa’s inaugural state-of-the-nation address.

“MDC members of parliament have just defied the illegitimate president and ZANU-PF leader ED Mnangagwa by walking out during his uninspiring reading of a speech,” Sibanda tweeted.

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Mnangagwa was declared winner after Zimbabwe’s top court threw out the MDC’s bid to overturn the results of the July 30 presidential elections.

In other comments, Mnangagwa vowed to wipe out a cholera outbreak which has killed over 30 people, most of them in the capital Harare.

“Let us as a nation commit to permanently eradicate these mediaeval diseases mainly through addressing challenges related to clean water and sanitation provision as well as sustainable waste management practice,” he said.

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