Last month we got the year two pay rise from a two year pay deal. We were to get either 2.5% or inflation if it were greater. Inflation won and I think we got something nearer to 4%. This made me think about Zimbabwe, my wife’s home country, where inflation in April was 3,713.9% year on year and 100.7% for that month! Here is a page from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe website showing each months inflation since January 1999. I’ve put the page on my website because the RBZ website is so slow to load, if you want the RBZ website it’s here.
This was written on 13 June by Eddie Cross “Yesterday I bought fuel for Z$57 000 a litre, today the price is Z$85 000 to Z$90 000. I have just spoken to a taxi driver and he said that the standard fare from the high-density townships to the City Center was Z$15 000 today – going to Z$20 000 tomorrow and then Z$25 000. The currency continues is collapse and is now trading at 10 000 to 1 against the Rand and anything from 75 000 to 100 000 against the US dollar. Maize meal is again out of stock as is cooking oil and sugar. We bought a loaf of bread yesterday from Lobels for Z$30 000 and other bakeries are selling at Z$24 000.”
And, two days later he wrote “we are fast approaching the point where we simply cannot cope with the rapid changes in the economy. Fuel went over Z$100 000 a litre this week, the US dollar is trading at 120 000 to 1, the Rand is approaching 15 000 to 1 and the pound is off the scale. This means prices have doubled in a week. I run a supermarket and we are marking up everything but simply cannot keep pace. No matter what we do when pricing, everything we sell is below replacement cost and you can only carry this for so long before grinding to a halt.”
“The government stipulated wage for a domestic worker is less than Z$15 000 a month, the wage of a farm worker less than Z$40 000 a month and a worker in industry probably gets about Z$500 000, not enough for bus fare. We had tea with the widow of a Supreme Court Judge on Sunday – her pension is Z$90 000 a month – one US dollar.”
We send money to Zimbabwe to support Essy’s family but whatever they receive they must spend within hours because what would have bought a loaf of bread today will only buy half a loaf tomorrow! The electricity supply is now only on for 1 hour per day so forget keeping frozen food, or even chilling food. Until very recently the water supply had been one constant, now it’s reduced to a trickle much of the time.