Economists say a wave of strikes by Zimbabwean doctors, teachers and others since the turn of the year reflects intense frustration by the middle-class which has found it impossible to make ends meet when living costs rise at nearly 1,300% annually.
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe said this week that a family of six needs nearly a half million dollars a month to get by - several times the average middle-class wage.
Twelve-month inflation was running at 1,281% in January.
The government is feeling the pressure as Zimbabweans take their grievances into the streets. Economics has replaced the political opposition as the main threat to the government of President Robert Mugabe, reported the United Nations news agency IRIN. And Britain's Telegraph says Zimbabwe is “on the brink of total collapse.”
For perspective on the economic threat to Harare, reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to Tapiwa Mashakada, deputy secretary general and parliamentary economics spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change faction of Morgan Tsvangirai, and Eric Bloch, a Reserve Bank advisor.
Bloch said Harare has only itself to blame for the current economic crisis and wave of industrial actions.