- Zimbabwe's inflation rate is projected to reach 1,000 percent within the end of the year. The country's labour movement has called on President Robert Mugabe and his entire cabinet to resign as inflation again has soared from 300 percent to 364.5 percent.
The Zimbabwean Central Statistical Office this week again adjusted the country's inflation rate, now reaching 364.5 percent from July 2002 to June 2003. This was up from 300 percent in last month's report by the government agency.
Inflation is on course to reach the 1,000 percent peak predicted by many economists by the year-end. The country is already subject to hyperinflation with day-to-day price rises and no remaining trust in the Zimbabwe dollar.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Secretary-General Wellington Chibebe said his organisation was now appalled by President Mugabe's failure to implement measures to ease the economic crisis, which had now led even to a shortage of Zimbabwe dollar notes.
- If it were any other democracy, said Mr Chibebe, "the entire government would have resigned for presiding over the mess that this economy is in," his statement reads.
Also the Zimbabwean Consumer Council (ZCC) on Thursday said the latest jump in inflation would put the price of basic commodities further beyond the reach of the urban poor.
The CCZ estimates that an urban household of six members would now need over Zim$ 200,000 (about US$ 241) per month to cover its basic needs. On average a domestic helper in Zimbabwe earns Zim$ 25,000 (about US$ 30) per month, while a court orderly's salary is at Zim$ 60,000.
The Council had however noted that a government decision in May to suspend price controls on some commodities had slightly improved the situation. Some basic foodstuffs now had re-appeared on shelves in supermarkets, but these were often sold at parallel market prices and therefore unaffordable for most households.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) last October forecast that Zimbabwe's inflation would soar to 522.2 percent this year. This prediction is now however seen as totally outdated.
Zimbabwean Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa recently had expressed his objective to bring the annual rate back down to below 100 percent within the end of the year.
Almost 70 percent of Zimbabwe's population of some 12 million now lives below the poverty line, and nearly half the population are still at risk from famine, according to the World Food Programme (WFP). The UN humanitarian agency has seen it increasingly difficult to provide food as markets are dysfunctional due to the hyperinflation.
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