GABEThe First Post''s exclusive news revealing the latest Zimbabwe
inflation statistics will infuriate the government of Robert Mugabe,
especially as it has taken considerable steps to make sure they
remained a secret. And the possibility still exists that an attempt
will be made to massage, or even falsify, the figures.
The Minister of Finance, Samuel Mumbengegwi, issued a confidential
departmental directive to delay the announcement, because, he wrote,
"they will cause major embarrassment".
He was undoubtedly referring to the recent promise by the Governor of
the Central Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono, who claimed that month-on-month
inflation would decelerate to 25 per
cent by the end of this year.
To say other authorities disagree with Gideon is a considerable
understatement. The International Monetary Fund has projected that
Zimbabwe''s annual inflation would hit 6,470 per cent in 2008. And other
analysts maintain that the actual figure is already above the 5,000 per
cent figure, and could even rise to 10,000 per cent.
This week''s figures show that, even officially, the annual rate of
inflation as measured by the consumer price index surged 816.1
percentage points, from 3,713.9 per cent in April to 4,530 per cent in
These ever-increasing rates, the result of Zimbabwe''s basic economic
mismanagement and the destruction of agriculture in the country, are
fuelled by the government''s simplistic policy of printing money in
order to pay civil servants and the armed forces. While in a desperate
attempt to stem the flow, the Central Reserve Bank remains the largest
buyer of foreign currency on the black market.
None of these figures make much impact on the average Zimbabwean.
Unemployment now runs at more than 80 per cent, and even those in some
kind of formal employment earn less than Z$1m a month. It is estimated
that the avarage family of husband, wife and four children needs at
least Z$5.5m to pay for basic food and shelter. People live from day to
day, from hand to mouth.
The government expects ''major embarrassment'' if the present rate is
published. What kind of embarrassment will it expect when all semblance
of control is abandoned and the country sinks back into the Stone Age?