Starvation Pounds Inflation-Hit Urban Zimbabweans — Global Issues

Rising inflation and the Ukraine war have increased the plight of people in Zimbabwe, where even the middle class struggles to buy a loaf of bread. Credit: Jeffrey Moyo / IPS
  • by Jeffrey Moyo (hare)
  • Associated Press Service

As a father of six school-going children, Chauruka earns 126,000 Zimbabwean dollars monthly, or 157 US dollars (USD).

Bread now costs $1.30 in Zimbabwe, up from 0.90 cents five years ago when former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was ousted from power in a military coup.

Not only that, the price of a kilo of beef buffet has gone up to $9, while five kilos of chicken thighs are now priced at 21,000 Zimbabwe dollars, or about $22.

“I can’t afford bread every day. If I spend money on bread every day, I will run out of money to pay rent and buy groceries for the family,” Chauruka told IPS.

In May 2022, the Zimbabwe Consumer Council said a family of five needs 120,000 Zimbabwe dollars a month in local currency to survive, or about $300. However, it could be much higher this time amid increasing inflation.

Against the backdrop of hyperinflation, oil prices in Zimbabwe are volatile, a major determinant of the pricing of basic goods and services.

From $1.77 a liter recently, gasoline now costs around $1.60 even if it was pegged at $1.41 in January before war broke out in Ukraine after Russia invaded the Eastern country. Europe.

Zimbabwe’s inflation rose from 96% to 132% in May, while food inflation increased from 104% to 155%. The country’s monthly inflation spiked from 15.5% in April to 21% in May.

As a result, for many low-paid working Zimbabweans like Chauruka, hunger has hit as they grapple with the country’s hyperinflation and ensuing poverty in the towns and cities where they live.

Chauruka and her family are residents of the high-density suburb of Kuwadzana in the Zimbabwean capital Harare.

Now with the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war slowing food exports to many developing countries like Zimbabwe, many urban residents like Chauruka and his family have faced starvation amid food prices higher.

According to the Zimbabwe Grain Milling Association (GMAZ) since the Russo-Ukrainian war began, the price of wheat has increased from $475 to $675 per ton.

As a result, bread for many urban dwellers known for years to be able to afford it suddenly became a luxury.

But on July 22, Russian and Ukrainian officials signed an agreement allowing grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

Key witnesses to the deal, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said the agreement would help defuse the global food crisis.

For urban Zimbabweans, who have to party with their hard earned money to put every bite of food on their table, the deal will bring smiles too.

One Zimbabwean who was relieved to hear the news was Nyson M’wawa, 57, a senior government employee.

“Now, I am optimistic that the Russia-Ukraine agreement to open the food pipeline for countries that want to import food will reduce food shortages in many countries and cause food prices to fall,” he said. M’shwa told IPS.

Russia and Ukraine are among the world’s largest exporters of food, especially wheat, to developing countries like Zimbabwe.

However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year resulted in a de facto blockade of the Black Sea, causing Ukraine’s grain exports to plummet.

With the new agreement between the warring countries, even Harare retail shop owners, like 48-year-old Jonathan Gunda of Mbare, Harare’s oldest town, are elated.

“I have suspended the sale of bread and cakes. In fact, I canceled the sale of all wheat products, but with the new agreement between Russia and Ukraine, this means that I will be back in business,” Gunda told IPS.

However, with the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war blamed for food shortages and inflation, South African World Food Program Director Menghestab Hailein May this year, urged Zimbabwe and surrounding countries to increase food production.

“The SADC area has water, land, and good people, so we can produce in this area. Let’s diversify and produce for ourselves,” WFP’s Haile said afterwards.

Report of the United Nations Office IPS

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© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service

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