Zim annual inflation hits 540%

Zimbabwean dollar bond banknotes.  (Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg)
Zimbabwean dollar bond banknotes. (Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg)

After a yearlong hiatus, Zimbabwe has resumed the publication of year-on-year inflation figures, with the results showing a sharp increase since the last publication, at over 500%.  

The southern African country on Monday released inflation figures for the month of February, which soared to 540.16%. 

The number, however, is in line with estimates by independent economists, who have been calculating the figure since the Zimbabwean government banned the publication of inflation figures in June 2019. At the time, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said the inflation rate was being misread and was not a true reflection of price increases. 

He said the 2019 prices were in the local Zimbabwe dollar and could not be compared with US dollar prices that prevailed in 2018. "Given this transition, Zimstat will defer publication of year-on-year inflation while building up data of prices in mono-currency for a period of 12 months to February 2020," said Ncube. 

"This will ensure that we compare like with like in terms of currency regimes."

At the time, June 2019 annual inflation had reached 175.6% from 97.85% the previous month. 

December 2019's inflation was calculated at 521% by independent economists, while January's rate slowed down to 473%. 

The latest numbers show a sharp rise in prices again, with the month-on month inflation rate for February - at 13.52% - gaining 11.29 percentage points on the January rate of 2.23%. 

Price increases in Zimbabwe are tracking the weakening of the local currency on both the official market and the parallel market, where the Zim dollar is trading at 18.40 and 40, respectively, to the US dollar.   

 
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