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Dirty dollars: how tattered US notes became the latest street hustle in Zimbabwe | Global development

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In time-honoured street hawker tradition, Kaitano Kasani is using charm and persuasion to get people to sell him their tattered US banknotes.

Kasani, 42, bellows through a megaphone as he walks through Glen Norah, a township in Harare, in the sweltering November heat.

“Bring all your old and torn notes. I have a good rate today. There is no other better deal in town,” Kasani shouts.

A woman brings a torn $20 note (£15) which Kasani inspects before handing her $15.

In Zimbabwe’s beleaguered economy, buying and selling half-shredded banknotes has become the latest hustle.

“Most of my clients are shocked that I actually buy such money. They love me for that,” says Kasani, showing a handful of filthy dollars which would be rejected in supermarkets or other businesses.

Zimbabweans are suspicious of banks and prefer to keep their money under pillows and beds. In previous crises, hyperinflation wiped out millions in savings, particularly in 2008. Now, there is a lack of favoured banknotes as they wear out faster than replacements come into circulation.

Shortages have led to the government telling banks and retailers not to reject old or worn US dollars, but many defy the order. A lack of exports means fewer new notes in circulation, and Zimbabweans are re-using increasingly grubby notes. Dealers either mend them or sell them on to others who will bribe or otherwise persuade senior bank officials to exchange large quantities.

“These torn notes are more valuable to me than new ones. These old notes, when taken to the bank, will be replaced at the same value, yet we would have bought them at nearly half the original value, depending on how bad they are,” says Kasani.

“All I need is the serial number and the necessary features for me to take.”

Kasani sells old notes to business people and other cash dealers at 80% profit.

His new business has sustained his four children after he lost his job in manufacturing two years ago.

“This is quite lucrative; I actually got some assets through this business. I was one of the first people to buy such money in Banket [north-west of Harare] and other surrounding areas. It is just that the trade is now flooded, so I may have to concentrate on other things,” he says.

The country decommissioned the Zimbabwean dollar after it was destabilised by protracted periods of hyperinflation. It was reintroduced in 2019 despite warnings from economists that the country did not have enough foreign reserves to sustain it. At that point transactions in US dollars were prohibited, but as cash shortages threatened business, the government backtracked to allow traders to accept the US currency again last year.

Now, shortages of small US dollar denominations are leading to a boom in torn notes dealers.

A currency trader counts his money in Harare
A currency trader counts his money in Harare. Shortages of small US dollar denominations have caused a boom in dealers trading torn notes. Photograph: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

In central Harare, 36-year-old Munengami* keeps an eye out for plain-clothed police patrolling in a popular area for illegal trading. Dealers, some with babies strapped on their backs, endure constant run-ins with police, who have launched a campaign to remove illegal money changers.

A government crackdown blames traders for a plunge in the value of the Zimbabwean dollar. Money dealers say they are being scapegoated for the government’s economic failures.

“They know that we are not the problem here. We do not have the power to raise the exchange rates. Government needs to deal with those businessmen who flood the streets with local currency, which automatically reduces the value of the dollar,” says Munengami.

Zimbabwe’s vice-president, Constantino Chiwenga, has warned of harsh measures against traders, with the government setting up an intelligence unit to fish out “saboteurs” and “fraudsters”.

As the Zimbabwe dollar continues on a “death spiral”, losing ground against the US dollar, economists have called on the government to make the US dollar the only unit of exchange. But the finance minister, Mthuli Ncube, ruled that out.

“We cannot adopt the US dollar alone as the official currency. You were there before and there were queues at banks, huge foreign currency deficits and you had deflation. That was because of the US dollar,” he says. “It is not a good idea, and it will be suicidal to do so.”

Economist Clemence Machadu says the crackdown on illegal dealing is futile.

“The government is firefighting, and that explains why we really haven’t seen much of a change … We should get down to brass tacks and deal with root causes, which are really rooted in supply, and not symptoms of the problem,” says Machadu.

Inflation fell from 840% in July last year to 50% in August but has been sliding up again, to 54% in October according to the Zimbabwe national statistics agency (Zimstat).

A fruit and vegetable market in Harare
The government has warned of harsh measures against money dealers, but some argue it is ignoring the root cause of the issue. Photograph: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

Carefully applying glue to a $20 note, Munengami explains how he makes a living.

“I am a teacher by profession and the day I converted my salary to US dollars and got $50 [£37], I knew there was no future for me in teaching,” says Munengami.

“I buy torn notes to sell to my clients. It is more profitable than forex [foreign exchange] vending since I determine the price. I sell these notes to shops and businesspeople, at 20% profit.”

A few yards from Munengami, Amina Banda, 34, does a deal with a man inside a parked SUV with her baby strapped on her back.

“I am always nervous that the police will arrest me, but this is how we operate on the streets. I do not trust anyone, so whenever a transaction happens, I always maintain a safe distance so I can escape. Sometimes, the police come in plain clothing disguising themselves,” she says.

“I have a family to feed so I have to stick to the streets.”

*Partial name used at the request of interviewee

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After death of Elizabeth II, corgi prices hit record high | International

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The first of Queen Elizabeth II’s corgis was a puppy named Susan that was given to her by her parents in 1944, on her 18th birthday. The young princess fell in love with this typical Welsh herding breed. Indeed, she loved corgis so much that she would own more than 30 of Susan’s descendants over the next six decades. “My corgis are family,” Elizabeth II once said.

Corgis were often spotted walking beside the queen in Buckingham Palace, and appeared next to her in numerous personal photographs, as well as official portraits. They were an inseparable part of her image. After the queen’s death on September 8, the cost of a corgi dog has broken new records, according to the AFP news agency.

“The prices asked for by registered corgi breeders have today hit a new high, with average asking prices doubling over the past three days,” Pets4Homes, an online pet store in the United Kingdom, told the news agency. For the first time, a corgi was selling for over £2,500 ($2,678), even outstripping prices reached during the pandemic, when there was a huge spike in demand for pets.

Pets4Homes added that it was experiencing “over 10 times the volume of daily searches for corgis when compared to this time last week.”

According to Kennel Club, one of the largest purebred dog breeders in the UK, corgi prices also broke records back in 1944, when the queen was gifted Susan. “People – breeders – were servicing the market for a dog that has suddenly become very popular. It’s the 101 Dalmatians effect,” Ciara Farrell, the Kennel Club’s Library and Collections Manager, told the BBC in reference to the surge in popularity of dalmatians following the release of the 1961 Disney animated movie.

Elizabeth II arriving at King's Cross Station, London, on October 15, 1969 with her four corgis after a holiday at Balmoral Castle. She used to travel with her pets, so images of Queen II surrounded by corgis were common.
Elizabeth II arriving at King’s Cross Station, London, on October 15, 1969 with her four corgis after a holiday at Balmoral Castle. She used to travel with her pets, so images of Queen II surrounded by corgis were common.STF (AFP)

Demand for the corgi breed rose again in the 1960s, with nearly 9,000 puppy registrations, as newspapers and television showed images of the young queen with her family and corgis. By the late 1990s, interest had begun to fade, and in 2014, the Kennel Club listed corgis in the vulnerable native breed category, with just 274 new puppy registrations.

In 2017, registrations increased by 17%, and by 47% a year later, in 2018. This period coincided with the release of the popular Netflix TV show The Crown, which follows the life of Queen Elizabeth.

The last two corgis owned by Elizabeth II were Muick and Sandy, who were gifted to her by her son, Prince Andrew, following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, in April 2021. Angela Kelly, the queen’s dresser, said at the time: “I was worried they would get under the Queen’s feet, but they have turned out to be a godsend. They are beautiful and great fun and the Queen often takes long walks with them in Home Park.”

Muick and Sandy stayed with the queen until her last moments, sources close to the palace told the British newspaper Daily Mail. On September 19, the corgis also stood with Prince Andrew outside Windsor Castle to farewell their former owner. Outside, many Britons had also decided to bring their own corgis to say goodbye to the queen.

It is now up to Prince Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, to take care of Muick and Sandy.

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Iran launches airstrike against Kurdish group in northern Iraq | Iran

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Iran has launched a deadly cross-border airstrike into northern Iraq to punish Kurds for their role in supporting demonstrations over the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman in Iranian police custody that are still rattling the Tehran regime.

The attack occurred as the Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, addressed the nation to express his regret over the death of Mahsa Amini a fortnight ago, but also to accuse the protesters of being agents of foreign powers.

Activists in Iran, speaking to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, said: “Our confidence is growing. We are not backing down despite the arrests. It is very beautiful. There is a belief that something is going to change this time.”

Lawyers acting for Amini’s family have, in defiance of regime pressure, filed a formal complaint against those responsible for her arrest. They have demanded a detailed independent investigation into her death, including the manner of arrest and transfer to hospital, as well as photographs and videos of the arrest, and any brain scans.

Amini, now a symbol of resistance to the regime, died in police custody after she was picked up by the morality police in Tehran for not wearing a hijab properly.

As many as 13 people were killed and 58 injured in the Iranian drone strikes on military bases in northern Iraq that belong to the exiled Kurdish Democratic party of Iran.

The KDPI said in a statement: “The forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran attacked the bases and headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic party of Iran with missiles and drones.”

Iran said it was attacking terrorist bases, while the US described the strikes as brazen.

The KPDI urged its supporters inside Iran to return to the streets, with its London spokesperson saying: “Support for these demonstrations is building. This started about one Kurdish woman and the wearing of the hijab, but it is now something wider in over 100 cities. The chant in the streets is: ‘Death to the regime. Death to the dictator.’”

Reports on the number of deaths amid the protests differ; the Oslo-based human rights group Iran Human Rights said the figure was at least 76, while Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency has put the toll at “around 60”, including several members of the Iranian security forces.

The regime will be desperate to ensure the protests do not extend to more working-class districts, and is likely to portray the protesters as anti-patriotic liberals at odds with the values of the regime.

Iran’s police said on Wednesday they would confront protests “with all their might”. However, the country’s minister for women’s affairs, Ensieh Khazali, said she had visited arrested women in jail and was seeking the release of those not guilty of major offences.

The UN said its secretary general, António Guterres, had called on Raisi not to use “disproportionate force” against protesters.

“We are increasingly concerned about reports of rising fatalities, including women and children, related to the protests,” the UN chief’s spokeperson, Stéphane Dujarric, said.

Iran has shut down the internet to prevent protesters using social media to inform the outside world of the scale of the repression. Up to 20 reporters have been arrested, and newspapers are increasingly toeing the government line that the protests are being manipulated by Saudi Arabian or western media. Some papers are staging debates on whether the compulsory hijab is required by sharia law.

The regime has continued to claim the west’s response followed what it regarded as a successful performance by Raisi at the UN general assembly in New York. But the regime is being battered by the persistence of the demonstrations and the willingness of prominent Iranians, including musicians, actors, sports stars and academics, to demand the voice of young Iranians be respected.

Fatemeh Motamed-Arya, an award-winning actor, appeared without hijab to speak at the funeral ceremony of fellow actor Amin Tariokh. The Iranian football coach and former player Ali Karimi has also backed the demonstrations, as has the composer Hossein Alizadeh.

In Britain, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British Iranian dual-national who spent five years in an Iranian jail, cut her hair for BBC Persian cameras to show solidarity with the protests in Iran.

Companies said the continued shutdown of the internet was damaging business.

On Tuesday, authorities in Iran arrested the daughter of the former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani for “inciting rioters”, the Tasnim news agency reported. They have also been threatening celebrities and football stars who have supported the protesters.

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‘Never Had Such Pathetic Experience’: Indian Actresses Harassed at Movie Promo – Video

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Police have filed a case and launched an investigation to identify and trace those who sexually assaulted the movie stars.

Two Indian actresses from Malayalam-language cinema have revealed that they were sexually abused at a movie promotion event in the Kozhikode district of the Indian state of Kerala.

A video of the incident shared online shows the moment when an unknown man gropes one of the actresses, Saniya Iyappan, as they were trying to get through the crowd surrounded by bodyguards. The actress can be seen turning around in an attempt to slap him, but he escaped.

Following the assault, Iyappan took to social media, saying that both she and her colleague have been to several places in the country to promote the upcoming movie — but had never had “such a pathetic experience” elsewhere.

“Kozhikode is a place I loved a lot. But, tonight while returning after a programme, a person from the crowd grabbed me. It disgusts me to say where! Are people around us so frustrated?,” the actress wrote.

She also revealed that her co-actress had a similar experience, but did not have a chance to respond to the attacker.

“She reacted, but I couldn’t in that situation as I was dumbstruck for a moment,” the victim said in a post.

“Later, I also encountered a similar experience but I reacted… I wish that no one has to face this kind of unwanted trauma in their life,” the other actress confirmed.



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