Inflation July 2006

In Zimbabwe, a small bag of groceries now costs millions
Worldwide - Peta Thornycroft in Harare - Daily Telegraph 15th July 2006

PENSIONERS were out in force at Zimbabwe's supermarkets on Thursday, which is 10 per cent discount day for shoppers over 65. At a large store in Harare's northern suburbs, a former farmer's wife shoved a clatterng metal trolley across a potholed car park.

She had spent more than 20 million Zimbabwe dollars on five small plastic bags of everyday groceries, about £25 on the black market but nearly £200 at the legal rate. She carried her money in a canvas holdall. Inflation is not so much out of control as heading into outer space. President Robert Mugabe's economy started upon its descent when he seized the land of white farmers in 2000.

At each stage of decline those of us that live here think it can't get any worse; but it can! Zimbabwe 2006

Shopping is very different in Chitungwiza, a sprawling, working-class, town about 15 miles South-East of Harare no one uses a trolley; each shopper carries two items at most - one half of a spiced sausage, or four bones. "It's the middle of the month, so money is gone," an assistant said. "These are hard days - we are suffering."

and it does. I was out of the country for eight nights recently and in that time the dollar dropped from 350,000 to the US dollar to 520,000. (The official rate is 100,000 to $1, but the only people able to obtain foreign currency at that rate are those in or close to the government).

A beer drinker watching the World Cup final last weekend said that in 1997 he could have bought two luxury Korean cars for the. price of a beer in Harare in July 2006. The new green 100,000 Zimbabwe dollar note is in short supply. The most available hote is the 20,000, and these are held together by rubber bands in two million' dollar packs. Ten lied together - enough for five bags - are the size of a brick.

The supermarket queues are excruciatingly slow. The shop assistants suffer sore hands 'from all the counting. "It is frightening," said James Kwawa, 27, an assistant, tellers' have to count groceries a over and over, as it is easy to make a mistake. We might take 800 million in a day. Everyone is tired Of counting."