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.