A man poses with some of the new two dollars banknotes introduced by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in Harare. Picture: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

Harare - Zimbabwe's much-anticipated new banknotes eventually reached banks on Tuesday after a delay that saw many waiting in long queues for cash the previous day.

"Banks were collecting cash from the central bank yesterday, and they only started issuing it today," Reserve Bank governor John Mangudya told dpa.

In June, President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised to introduce the new currency before the end of the year in a move intended to bring economic stability to the cash-strapped nation.

The southern African country had been using a combination of the US dollar and its quasi-currency, so-called bond notes, which Zimbabwe introduced during cash shortages a few years ago.

However, use of the greenback was banned earlier this year and the new Zimbabwe dollar was introduced in electronic form. This had left many people struggling to purchase much-needed items or draw their savings.

Customers wait in a queue to withdraw cash from a bank in Harare. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has begun issuing new notes and coins aimed at easing crippling cash shortages amid runaway inflation. Picture: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

"They are giving us 300 dollars per week. The money does not last even a day," said Emeka Gore, a teacher who had just accessed her cash in Harare's central business district.

Currently a loaf of bread costs 15 dollars, a packet of potatoes 100 dollars and a kilogram of meat 160 dollars.

Authorities said they were rationing cash withdrawals for fear that injecting huge amounts into the economy would fuel inflation.

Zimbabwe is experiencing its worst inflation in a decade with some economists saying it has reached more than 300 per cent.

Zimbabwe abandoned the Zimbabwe dollar in 2009 due to massive hyperinflation. Its failing economy has rendered about 5 million Zimbabweans dependent on aid.

dpa