In Summary
  • Zimbabweans were initially hopeful that the ousting of Robert Mugabe would persuade investors to return, bringing much-needed cash injections to local businesses.
  • But hope has faded and old ghosts have returned.

Retired couple Teddie and Vesta always imagined they would live out their golden years with dignity.

He is 85, and served one company for 46 years as a cleaner, eventually rising to become a receptionist. Vesta says that rising inflation has robbed them both of a comfortable retirement.

A year ago Teddie's monthly pension was worth $80 (£66), it's now worth $10.

"I am saddened when I see my beloved sitting in that corner from morning to night," Vesta tells the BBC.

"I would love to give him a banana, an orange or a cool drink. But we can't afford it. A banana costs $0.40."

INFLATION

The signs of a failing economy are everywhere. Supermarket trolleys are hardly ever full these days and shoppers linger, contemplating their purchases.

The prices of basics like sugar and cooking oil have jumped by 200 per cent in June, according to official statistics. So has healthcare.

Meanwhile the cost of bread has gone up fivefold in four months.

As of June 2019, inflation had already hit 98 per cent. In July, local currency the Zimbabwe dollar was reintroduced after a decade of using international currency. Inflation then soared to 176 per cent.

The local currency's value has continued to drop but the government has now suspended the publication of inflation statistics, citing the change of currency.

The latest economic crisis comes as Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa marks his first anniversary as an elected leader.

Robert Mugabe was ousted when his long-time ally-turned-rival swept to power with the military's help in November 2017. Elections were held on July 30 the following year.

HIGH COST OF LIVING

President Mnangagwa has dubbed this era the "second republic" - one based on recovery, entrenching democracy and reversing decades of ruinous policies under his predecessor.

Initially many Zimbabweans believed him.

Zimbabweans were initially hopeful that the ousting of Robert Mugabe would persuade investors to return, bringing much-needed cash injections to local businesses.

But hope has faded and old ghosts have returned.

Fuel is in short supply. The government says it doesn't have enough foreign currency to buy it. Rolling power blackouts are also back.

Authorities blame ageing power plants, low electricity tariffs as well as the worst drought in 40 years which threatens to shut down the main hydro-electric plant at Kariba.

A constant hum has returned to the city - the sound of generators - as boutiques, restaurants, supermarkets try to stay in business. With a sevenfold increase in fuel costs since January, this too will force prices of goods up and further fuel inflation.

'NO QUICK FIX'

Business representatives say power cuts, sometimes lasting up to 18 hours a day, have cost the country $200 million (£165 million) in lost revenue.

Page 1 of 2