Zimbabwe inflation rockets off the scale

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The Independent Online

Zimbabwe reached another landmark low today as the central bank introduced a new Z$100 trillion note, worth about £20 on the black market.

The real inflation rate has exploded beyond calculation, with the cost of parking at Harare airport now commonly used as an indicator of the US dollar exchange rate. The charge at the carpark is Z$400bn or US$1.

Previous issues of new denominations typically prompt mass queues at banks as desperate people struggle to get hold of currency that will soon be worthless. Prices are doubling at least every day in the worst peacetime economic collapse in history. For those with no access to hard currency, food, medicine and other essentials are unobtainable. And the country is ravaged by a cholera epidemic that has killed at least 2,000 people, the World Health Organisation says.

Attempts to break the political deadlock over power-sharing between Robert Mugabe’s government and the Movement for Democratic Change are expected to inch forward this weekend when the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai returns to the country.

All parties are expected to meet the leaders of South Africa and Mozambique on Monday. Mr Tsvangirai has accused Mr Mugabe of trying to dilute the opposition’s role in the prospective unity government and to retain full control of the security services. He also demanded the immediate release of kidnapped activists. He described conspiracy charges brought against abductees as "trumped up" and expressed concern for 11 more MDC members who are missing.