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Zimbabwe Inflation Surges to 4.3 Percent in Year Through September

Zimbabwe's consumer inflation for the 12 months through September jumped to 4.3 percent from 3.5 percent in August on significantly higher electricity rates and increased food and transport prices, the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency said Friday.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority boosted its commercial rates 31 percent last month and businesses passed the cost through to consumers, economists said.

The latest inflation rate is not far from the 4.5 percent rate set by Finance Minister Tendai Biti as a target for the end of this year, with three months of data yet to come.

Consumer Council of Zimbabwe Director Rosemary Siyachitema told Ntungamili Nkomo that although inflation remains relatively low, high utility charges are of concern.

"Within the consumer basket itself we see an increase of about $14 or $15 attributed especially to electricity charges," she said. "Food prices remain relatively stable."

Economist Eric Bloch said the ZESA electricity rate hikes were not justified.