Car trunks key for Zimbabwean ‘millionaires’

HARARE, July 16, 2006 (AFP) – Becoming a millionaire in Zimbabwe is easy these days, but wallets and purses have given way to car trunks and suitcases as the crucial accessory for carrying wads of nearly worthless cash. As the southern African country battles hyper-inflation and grinding fuel and foreign exchange shortages amid a seven-year economic slump, ordinary citizens have resigned themselves to wry humour to deal with the situation.

“In Zimbabwe, nothing goes down except the country,” is a saying often heard on the streets of the capital as inflation hovers around 1,200 percent, pushing basic commodities beyond the reach of many.

Despite a dip in inflation from 1,193 percent to 1,184 percent, a figure experts say is the highest in the world outside of a war zone, consumer prices continue to climb.

Zimbabwe’s largest financial note is the green 100,000-dollar bearer cheque, but at the equivalent value of about one US dollar or 78 euro cents it’s not enough to buy a loaf of bread, let alone a shopping basket.

Basic foodstuffs and essential drugs are in short supply, and electricity and water have also joined the long queue of hard-to-find items.

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) said recent