HARARE: Inflation has spiked in Zimbabwe, rising to nearly 300 per cent in some areas as the inflation nightmare that marked the rule of long-time authoritarian leader Robert Mugabe returns to haunt his successor Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa pledged to revive his country’s moribund economy when Mugabe was toppled in 2017 after 37 years in power.
But after the central bank unveiled a new monetary policy in February, introducing a new local currency, prices of goods and services have skyrocketed at rates unseen in a decade.
The disparity between the official and parallel market exchange rates has been rapidly widening, triggering price hikes of up to 300 per cent.
The chief of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Japhet Moyo, recalls meeting a man who saw the price of medicine for his chronic illness rise so much in two months that it now costs almost his entire salary.
In February, the man bought a month’s supply of the drugs for $95 (Dh348.9). This month he forked out $300. His monthly salary is $320.
“I asked him how he managed to meet the rest of his monthly expenses and he broke down weeping,” Moyo told AFP.
There have been warnings of the mental and physical toll the rampant price increases will have on Zimbabweans after the cost of a loaf of bread rose from $1.80 to $3.50, and a tub of butter shot up to $17 from $8.50.
Moyo is angry at the government for “putting on a brave face and giving the impression that the economy is on a rebound but on the ground things are going in the opposite direction”.
The crisis has brought back memories of a decade ago when hyperinflation peaked at a grotesque 500 billion per cent, wiping out the Zimbabwean dollar.
“We are back to 2008,” said Tonderai Chitsvari, a resident in the Kuwadzana township of the capital Harare. “It’s a miracle how people are surviving”.