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Zimbabwe Dollar In Free Fall, Signaling Further Inflation Acceleration

The Zimbabwean dollar has gone into free fall in recent days reflecting the scarcity of hard currency in the country, official printing of money and soaring inflation, with the U.S. dollar fetching Z$150,000 compared with about Z$50,000 in May.

On informal offshore exchanges the Zimbabwe currency tumbled to Z$300,000 to the greenback in larger financial exchanges usually involving businesses.

The Zimbabwean dollar's accelerating depreciation reflects surging inflation, recently estimated at 4,500% over the 12 months through May – the country's Central Statistical Office has not yet released the official version of the data.

The currency's steep slide and the soaring inflation rate prompted U.S. Ambassador Christopher Dell, soon to leave Harare for Kabul, Afghanistan – to issue predictions that economic pressures will drive the administration of President Robert Mugabe and the ruling ZANU-PF party out of power sooner than political opponents.

He quoted economists as saying inflation could hit 1.5 million percent by year's end.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change founding president Morgan Tsvangirai, in Britain late this week, voiced similar sentiments, saying the collapsing economy would force President Mugabe to allow free and fair elections to be held.

Economist Tony Hawkins, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe’s Graduate School of Management, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the economic meltdown can be attributed directly to the policies pursued by Harare.

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