Zimbabwe’s cost of living for a family of six surged 263% to ZWL$274 858.75 in the month of August from ZWL$75 757.62 in January following price hikes triggered by market jitters stemming from currency volatility, official data from the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) shows.
This has left many struggling to cope with the rising cost of living. Although the civil servants recently received a US$25 increment in allowances, the salary of the majority of government workers are still below the poverty datum line at US$200 and ZWL$70 000 per month.
It’s even worse for workers in the private sector as the majority earn less than US$250 a month.
CCZ said the volatile environment will continue to cause the prices of basic commodities to go up, pushing the already restive citizens to live on margins.
“This steep increase in the total figure of the basket has been caused by increases that were made of non-food items such as transport and electricity. Generally, all products in the basket have increased,” CCZ said.
“The increase in electricity tariffs as well as incessant power cuts were the major cost drivers in the increase of prices for various commodities. Influence of the parallel market exchange rate to ZWL$800: US$1 from ZWL$250: US$1 as at end of January 2022 was also a cost driver as some manufacturers and retailers are opting to buy US$ through this platform.”
Apex Council secretary David Dzatsunga told Business Times that civil servants were living on the margins.
“There were some adjustments that were made to our salaries to enable us to get US$200 and there was no increment on ZWL$ earnings. Despite the increment we are still below the poverty datum line which makes us working poor,” Dzatsunga said.
“Just like any poor citizen, we are failing to put a proper meal on the table, pay rent on time and pay school fees for our children. It’s just difficult. We are living on margins and failing to make ends meet.”
A survey conducted by this publication, confirmed Zimbabweans are grappling to make ends meet.
“With schools demanding top ups and basic commodities shooting up to the ceiling, we are failing to have a decent meal per day and we run a risk of getting sick due to malnutrition,” a civil servant who works at a new government complex said.
Instead of increasing salaries, companies are downsizing and retrenching workers.
Going forward, CCZ continues to encourage consumers to buy wisely, through formal channels where they can get recourse in the event of violation of their rights on the market place.
Consumers are encouraged to exercise their right to information by carefully examining if the products they are purchasing are well labelled, packaged and provided with vital information which includes manufacturing expiry dates and ingredients used in the make-up of the products.
As the purchasing power continues to dwindle, some recognised supermarkets are selling expired goods.
The total cost of the food basket and the price of each commodity are arrived at by averaging prices gathered from retail outlets throughout the country.
The basket is a fairly accurate depiction of the cost of living in urban Zimbabwe.