Once Famed for Hyperinflation, Zimbabwe Suspends Inflation Data

August 2, 2019
| Report Focus News
HARARE, ZIMBABWE - AUGUST 05: A man holds Zimbabwean Dollar Bond Notes on August 05, 2018 in Harare, Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) officials have announced the re-election of President Emmerson Mnangagwa of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF). The election was the first since Robert Mugabe was ousted in a military coup last year, and featured a close race between Mnangagwa and opposition candidate Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC Alliance). Deadly clashes broke out earlier in the week following the release of parliamentary election results, amid allegations of fraud by Chamisa and MDC supporters. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Zimbabwe, suffering the world’s second-highest inflation rate, won’t publish price data for the next six months as unrest mounts over surging costs and shortages.

The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency won’t report year-on-year inflation figures until February 2020, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube told lawmakers Thursday in the capital, Harare. That’s to allow the body to collect comparable data after the introduction of a new currency earlier this year.

Annual inflation in the southern African nation surged to 175.7% in June as shortages of food and fuel pushed up prices and the official exchange rate weakened to 9.2 per dollar from 2.5 per dollar since Feb. 25. Of 120 countries tracked by Bloomberg, only Venezuela has a higher inflation rate.

The government started distributing food to people in cities this week for the first time as a drought and an economic crisis caused widespread food shortages that may affect as many as 5.5 million people. Ncube said the economy will contract this year because of a lack of foreign exchange and energy.

The statistics agency will continue to publish month-on-month inflation data. That rate has also increased rapidly — to 39.5% in June from 1.7% in February.

Zimbabwe is no stranger to runaway inflation and abandoning certain indicators. Price growth peaked at 500 billion percent in 2008, prompting the government to abandon the Zimbabwe dollar.