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Official Zimbabwe Inflation Rate Reaches  2.2 Million Percent


Zimbabwe's Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono says the country's official inflation rate is now 2.2 million percent. VOA's Delia Robertson reports from our southern Africa bureau in Johannesburg.

Gideon Gono told a gathering in Harare that the figure is the latest released by the country's Central Statistical Office. The last official inflation rate, released in February, was 165,000 percent.

The World Food Program and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported last month that more than two million Zimbabweans will face hunger in the coming months. That figure is expected to peak at more than five million in the first quarter of next year.

WFP southern Africa spokesperson, Richard Lee, says the skyrocketing inflation will greatly impact Zimbabweans who are struggling to take care of their families and that this is particularly the case for vulnerable families.

"They are going to struggle even more to be able to stretch their scarce resources to get enough food for themselves and their families - and obviously for vulnerable poor people in urban areas, this sort of inflation is going to make it more difficult for them to fend for themselves, and could well mean that more people are going to require food assistance in the months ahead," said Lee.

Zimbabwe is experiencing its 10th consecutive year of recession, after being described by the World Bank in 2006 as the world's fastest declining economy. It has the highest inflation rate in the world.

Once the breadbasket of sub-Saharan Africa, the country's flourishing commercial agricultural industry rapidly shrunk as a consequence of President Robert Mugabe's chaotic land reform program.

And the country's highly effective subsistence farmers, who up until the mid-1990s contributed more maize and grains to the economy than commercial farmers, were also soon affected. As the economy rapidly declined, inputs such as seeds were soon unavailable and now most cannot feed their own families.

President Robert Mugabe, who was re-elected last month in a widely discredited presidential runoff election, blames his country's economic woes on the United States and Great Britain. All attempts by his government, including currency revaluation and price freezes have failed to rein in inflation.