Daily News  :: Southern Africa

Zimbabwe household bills surge

Published: 11-JAN-07

HARARE � The monthly average bill for households in Zimbabwe shot up by more than 40 percent last month, figures compiled by a consumer watchdog showed on Wednesday.

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe's (CCZ's) said that the cost of living for a family of six living in urban areas had risen from ZWD245,661 ($988) in to ZWD351,631 ($1406), reflecting a 43.1 percent increase.

The CCZ figures came on the same day that the government released the monthly inflation figure which rose to a new record high of 1,098 percent last month, up 182 percentage points on the November rate.

The consumer protection body bemoaned the escalating prices of basic foodstuffs like cooking oil, bread and the staple cornmeal which have worsened the plight of poor families.

The price of bread, the most common meal for the average Zimbabwean, went up from ZWD300 ($1.2) early December to ZWD850 ($3.4)by the month's end while the price of cooking oil also went up nearly two-fold.

The average monthly salary for an urban worker in ZWD65,000 ($260) and most families often resort to skipping some meals while workers walk or cycle up to 30 kilometres to work in order to stretch their income to next pay day.

Some workers supplement their salaries by selling goods like clothes at workplaces while others double as cross-border traders and street vending during weekends and holidays.

For most families ingredients like milk for tea and margarine or jam have become luxuries they have struck out of their list of groceries while a square meal is rare.

"Prices for almost all goods and services increased in this period thereby impacting negatively on the budgets for almost all consumers," the CCZ said.


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