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Zimbabwe Inflation Seen Heading Over 1,000%

This week’s news that consumer inflation in Zimbabwe ran at a 12-month rate of more than 585% on a one-month gain of over 80% points to an even higher inflationary peak than the 623% rate set in February 2004, economists say.

Harare’s Central Statistical Office said inflation ran at an annual rate of 585.8% in December after 502% in November. The Statistical Office said inflation was paced by a one-year surge of 2,240% in prices of bicycles – much sought by Zimbabweans dealing with chronic severe fuel shortages – and a 1,828% jump in medicine prices.

Despite the lofty December number, independent economist John Robertson said that he thinks inflation actually topped 600% for 2005 as a whole. He said the Statistical Office’s estimate that an average family of five needs at least Z$17 million a month to live (US$170) means three quarters of the population is below the poverty line.

Robertson told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that inflation will continue to rise as long as basic commodities like maize meal and foreign currency remain scarce, and if the government keeps printing money.

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