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Cost Of Living Continues To Rise For Zimbabwean Families

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe said this week that the cost of living for an average family of six reached Z$16.7 million (US$37) in August, compared with Z$13 million in July - a month-over-month rise of more than 28%. The state-funded agency said the increase in the basket of goods was driven by maize meal and sugar.

The figures came a week after the Central Statistical Office said the state poverty line - the monthly requirement for a family of six - rose to Z$12 million.

Economist and opposition advisor Eddie Cross told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the cost of living has continually risen because people are obliged to tap an expensive parallel market to obtain essentials.

Elsewhere, sources said war veterans in rural Gwanda, Matabeleland North Province, had barred opposition backers from buying maize from the Grain Marketing Board.

The sources said that former freedom fighters besieged a GMB depot in rural Gwanda last week and purchased by force some 300 bags of grain intended for hard-pressed villagers, keeping much for themselves or selling it to ZANU-PF supporters.

Gwanda Mayor Thandeko Mkandla confirmed that only card-carrying members of the ruling party are allowed to buy grain, which is in critically short supply in that area as elsewhere in the country. Mkandla, a member of the opposition faction led by Arthur Mutambara, said some maize is ending up on the parallel or black market where it is being sold for as much as Z$3 million for a 50 kilogram bag.

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