Specter of Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe Triggers Panic Buying
By Agence France-Press
via ENews Channel Africa, Johannesburg
Sunday, October 1, 2017
HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Driving to work last week, Dennis Zhemi found his usually busy neighborhood garage in the Zimbabwean capital Harare deserted and a forecourt attendant signalling "no fuel."
For Zhemi, it was a worrying sign that Zimbabwe's chronic economic collapse could be heading for another vicious downward spiral of basic shortages, hyperinflation, and social chaos.
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Zhemi's heart sank as he drove on, hoping to refuel at the next station, but at least 40 other cars were queueing on the side of the road towards the petrol pumps.
"Immediately I was reminded of 2008 when we slept in fuel queues, and I prayed silently that we don't return to those days," the 43-year-old human resources consultant told AFP.
He left his car at the garage as he did not have enough fuel to reach his office, and caught a bus to work.
A decade ago, hyperinflation in Zimbabwe wiped out personal savings, left shops empty, and made it all but impossible to buy a tank of petrol or daily groceries.
Inflation peaked at 500 billion percent before the national currency was abandoned in a favor of the US dollar, and the economy never recovered.
Fears of a repeat of those desperate days have grown in recent weeks in Zimbabwe, and panic-buying has seen prices rocket.
The stockpiling has been driven by a collapse in confidence in the parallel "bond note" currency that was launched by 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe's government nearly a year ago.
Bond notes dispersed by banks and ATMs are in theory worth the same as the US dollar, but consumers worry the currency could be rendered worthless like the old Zimbabwe dollar that was scrapped in 2009. ...
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