Money printing, 2,200% inflation keep 80% of Zimbabweans in poverty

HARARE, May 13, 2007 (AFP) – Zimbabwean cashier Cosmas Gwizo does not look forward to pay day. For the 43-year-old earning 500,000 Zimbabwean dollars a month (about 2,000 dollars) the receipt of his salary cheque is a painful rather than joyous occasion.

“Each time I receive my pay cheque I start scratching my head trying to work out how I will manage for the coming month and I find the money will not last me a week,” Gwizo told AFP.

“I often forego basics like milk, cut down on things like meat and stay at home if I can’t pay bus fare to work. It’s painful when you work and yet you can’t properly feed and clothe the body that toils.”

In its most recent report, the government’s Central Statistical Office (CSO) said the poverty threshold for a family of five had risen from 973,800 Zimbabwean dollars a month in February to 1.7 million in March as inflation reached 2,200 percent.

A family with an income below this margin is classified as poor, calculated on the cost of a basic basket of goods and services an average household requires to survive — including foodstuffs, transport and basic healthcare.

Figures from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) put the poverty line at 19,000 Zimbabwean dollars in May 2002, when annual i