Published: May 2, 2006
The New York Times
Ayina Musoni, 58, has taken in lodgers to help with expenses, but she can barely afford
food for her family.
, April 25 — How bad is inflation in Zimbabwe? Well, consider
this: at a supermarket near the center of this tatterdemalion capital, toilet paper costs
No, not per roll. Four hundred seventeen Zimbabwean dollars is the value of a single
two-ply sheet. A roll costs $145,750 — in American currency, about 69 cents.
The price of toilet paper, like everything else here, soars almost daily, spawning jokes
about an impending better use for Zimbabwe's $500 bill, now the smallest in circulation.
But what is happening is no laughing matter. For untold numbers of Zimbabweans, toilet
paper — and bread, margarine, meat, even the once ubiquitous morning cup of tea —
have become unimaginable luxuries. All are casualties of the hyperinflation that is
roaring toward 1,000 percent a year, a rate usually seen only in war zones.
Zimbabwe has been tormented this entire decade by both deep recession and high
inflation, but in recent months the economy seems to have abandoned whatever moorings
it had left. The national budget for 2006 has already been largely spent. Government
services have started to crumble.
The purity of Harare's drinking water, siphoned from a lake downstream of its sewer