Worse than nightmare: Zimbabwe struggles with hyperinflation

Harare: When going shopping, the only thing Isaiah Macheku can budget for is shock. Hyperinflation is changing prices so quickly in Zimbabwe that what you see displayed on a supermarket shelf might change by the time you reach the checkout.

"It is a nightmare," Macheku said. "I can't plan." Before a coup unseated the late president Robert Mugabe in late 2017, Macheku could afford all his family's basics on his salary, which equals about USD 24. Now the same amount can hardly buy 4 kilograms (8.8 pounds) of beef.

He ended up buying chicken skin for his family's supper. "I cannot afford the actual chicken," he said. It is the closest his family gets to eating meat.

Zimbabwe now has the world's second highest inflation after Venezuela, according to International Monetary Fund figures. The southern African nation went through this a decade ago but says there is no getting used to it, and coping has become both creative and desperate.

This time Zimbabwe's economy has been on a downward spiral for more than a year as hopes fade that Mugabe's successor and former deputy, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, will deliver on his promises of prosperity.

"Anyone who thinks a solution is in sight must be very brave," said economist John Robertson in the capital, Harare. "Government officials don't want to admit the real causes and don't want to fix the real problems. People should brace for worse."

He said the real causes include the government spending beyond its means.

Free Press Journal

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