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Resurgent Inflation, Topping 600%, Nears Zimbabwe's Record High

As economists and even the head of Zimbabwe's central bank had predicted, inflation continued to rise in January to a 613% annual rate after 585% in December, the Central Statistical Office said, citing housing and food costs and school fees.

The latest push in consumer prices brought the 12-month rate within hailing distance of the country's all-time high inflation rate of 623% reached in January 2004.

Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono said in his recent monetary policy statement that inflation should peak at around 800% in March before declining again.

Elsewhere, analysts were voicing pessimism about the chance of an agriculture-based economic recovery following the threat by State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa to impose “criminal sanctions,” on white farmers raising crops without authorization on land that the state in effect nationalized with a 2005 constitutional amendment.

He said white farmers working land had not applied to the government to plant crops after the nationalization measure, though no such requirement was announced.

Labor and Economic Development Research Institute Director Godfrey Kanyenze told reporter Blessing Zulu that Harare has only itself to blame for its economic woes.

Zimbabwe has been plagued for months with critical shortages of food, fuel and other commodities as the agricultural sector, which earned a large portion of the country's export foreign exchange earnings, has collapsed under the shock of land reform.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...