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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 September, 2003, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
Mugabe sets up 'financial' courts
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe
Mugabe blames illegal trading for Zimbabwe's currency crisis
President Robert Mugabe has established new courts to counter Zimbabwe's critical banknotes shortage.

The Zimbabwe leader blames the four-month-old shortage on the thriving black foreign currency market.

Michael Santu of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe told the Sunday Mail newspaper the courts would co-operate with neighbouring countries.

They will eliminate the Zimbabwe dollar's illegal externalisation, he said.

Mr Santu told the newspaper: "There is still a lot of money out of the country, especially in Mozambique and Zambia."

Zimbabweans use the notes to buy foreign currency abroad which they then re-sell onto the parallel market at home, he explained.

The courts are expected to start operating soon.

Loose bonds

Critics of the Mugabe-led government say banknote shortages are more to do with Zimbabwe's soaring inflation rate, currently standing at more than 426%, than its black currency market.

The Zimbabwe Government introduced a new currency - bearer cheques - this week, but economists warned they are easily forged.

"There is a serious danger because they can easily be manufactured using modern machinery such as scanners and photocopiers," economist John Robertson told Zimbabwe's Standard newspaper.

Bearer cheques are only valid until January 2004.

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