Harare – Rumours of a delay in the introduction of Zimbabwe’s unpopular bond notes aren’t true if central bank chief John Mangudya is to be believed: he says they’ll be out in two weeks.

The state-controlled Sunday News quoted Mangudya as saying: “The bond notes and its specimen will be released at the same time which is at the end of this month.” “Specimen” likely refers to pictures of the bills that will be published in the local press.

There have been persistent rumours that the Zimbabwe authorities will once again delay the introduction of the notes, maybe even to as late as February or March. The bills are meant to be at par with the US dollar, but locals fear they will take the southern African country back to the dark days of hyperinflation and shortages up to 2008.

Mangudya added: “I do things for the good of the economy not to destabilise it.”

Much of the upset around the introduction of bond notes has come from the inconsistent messages put out by top government and bank officials. While Mangudya has insisted the notes are not a currency, vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa says the opposite.

Mangudya told the latest edition of the state-run Sunday Mail that the notes were “an anti-money laundering tool” – but he also insisted locals would only come across them “as change at supermarkets”.

He and other officials are trying to suggest that the notes will be no different from bond coins, which were introduced in 2014 and were seen by many then as an ominous precursor to Zimbabwe reintroducing its own currency.

Zimbabwe has been in the grips of cash shortages since early this year. President Robert Mugabe’s government blames this on locals hoarding and sending cash out of the country. But critics say it’s because of depressed industrial production and the government’s increased borrowings on the domestic market.