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Hyperinflation Just a Memory As Zimbabwe Consumer Prices Slide

Consumer prices in Zimbabwe declined for a third straight month in March due to the officially sanctioned and widespread use of the U.S. dollar, South African rand and other convertible currencies for most transactions, the Central Statistical Office said Thursday.

The CSO said its consumer price index declined by 3% last month following a 3.1% drop in February and a downtick of 2.3% in January. Not so long ago Zimbabwean inflation fueled by massive central bank money-printing was measured in billions of percentage points.

The CSO updated its so-called Poverty Datum Line indicating what a family of five needs to meet essential costs such as rent, food and transport. In January that figure – just released this week – stood at US$552, but by March it had fallen to US$461, the CSO said.

But the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe disagreed, saying that in March its own basket of the most basic goods and services shot up by several percent, driven by sharp increases in rent, water and electricity rates, transport and education. It says that in March an urban family of six had to bring in US$386 a month to stay afloat, compared with US$374 in February.

Consumer Thomas Mutandwa of Rimuka Township in Kadoma, Mashonaland West province, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that although the prices of some consumer goods are falling, home rents remain a cause for concern.

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