ZIMBABWE’S year-on-year inflation rate for the month of November gained 10,16 percentage points to 31,01%, the statistics agency reported yesterday.
BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
This means prices, as measured by the all items CPI [consumer price index], increased by an average 31,01% between November 2017 and November 2018.
According to the Zimbabwe Statistics Agency (ZimStat) month-on-month calculations, the inflation rate was 9,20%, shedding 7,24 percentage points on the October 2018 rate of 16,44%.
Food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation, which is prone to transitory shocks, stood at 42,71%, while the non-food inflation rate was 25,40%.
The government figures, however, remain heavily contested, given actual developments on the ground which have seen prices of fuel and other basic commodities going up by more than 100% and in some instances actually increasing more than three fold.
American economist Steve Hanke estimates that Zimbabwe’s cumulative inflation rate as of December was 186%, second only to Venezuela, which is grappling with runaway inflation.
The South American economy is imploding, with the inflation rate set to hit nearly 1,4 million percent this year, according to forecasts by the International Monetary Fund in its World Economic Outlook. It is seen reaching 10 million percent in 2019.
Just like Zimbabwe, which went through a similar devastating bout a decade ago, Venezuela is being left out of the inflation calculations for the region and for all emerging markets since that would throw off the average.
Zimbabwe’s inflation reached 500 billion percent in 2008, rendering the local currency worthless and leaving savings and pensions useless.
The country went on to adapt a basket of currencies, among them the South African rand, Botswana pula, British sterling pound and the United States dollar in a bid to bring stability to the economy.
What followed was a sustained period of negative inflation, with the country eventually slipping out of deflation in February 2017.
Mounting inflationary pressures, however, are raising fears of a return to the dreaded hyperinflationary era.