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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 15:38 GMT
Zimbabwe: Living with hyperinflation
Child with Zimbabwean dollars in a bag
People are now carrying money in plastic bags
The governor of Zimbabwe's reserve bank last week admitted that his country is in the grip of hyperinflation, with some economists predicting an inflation rate of 1,000% within two months.

This week saw the introduction of a so-called "bearer cheque" worth 50,000 Zimbabwean dollars - 50 times the highest available banknote - but actually worth around half a US dollar and only enough to buy a loaf of bread.

BBC World Service's Outlook programme spoke to five Zimbabweans, all of whom did not wish to be named, about what life is like living under rampant hyperinflation.

THE TAXI DRIVER

Now, we can hardly even look after our families.

When we talk of inflation, almost everyone is being affected.

It's as if our customers have left the country, because most of the people are walking in and out of town.

It's now even worse when you try to increase the fares, because already people can't afford them.

I buy five litres of petrol from the black market. This is normally 650,000 - 700,000.

On a good trip, that five litres can raise 1 million - but additional costs leave around 250,000 - absolutely nothing.

That is barely enough to feed yourself, let alone your family.

It's like we are living hand-to-mouth.

THE STUDENT

When I go to withdraw my money, I have to wait around 30 minutes because there are so many people waiting.

It's so difficult.

Maybe you want 10 million but they only give you 2.8, because there is not enough at the bank.

THE LECTURER

Children in Harare play in uncollected rubbish
Hyperinflation has meant an end to rubbish collections
It's a very strange environment.

There are a lot of pay rises, but they are meaningless.

They are always eroded the minute they give us the pay rise.

Also, considering we have so much to pay - we have parents in the countryside, and we have families - it doesn't work.

People are willing to lend money, but they are not willing to lend it for nothing. It's usually at a rate of 90 or 100%.

Sometimes these are your relatives or people you work with, taking advantage of this.

People are cannibalising each other.

THE MOTHER

Because my income hasn't risen as much as the prices in the shops, we have had to adjust quite a bit.

The things that we buy - the groceries at home, the things we get for our two children - we have to buy immediately, as soon as we get the money.

We know that if we wait a bit, the prices are going to go up again. If we wait another week, we will not be able to afford anything.

People are taking the money out in suitcases or carrier bags.

THE BUSINESSMAN

I don't even know if I'll have a job at the end of the week, because there is so much uncertainty. There are so many companies closing down.

It is quite interesting to see people going in banks with bags and sometimes even suitcases.

You know that there are large amounts of money in there - which unfortunately are not going to buy much.



BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hear Zimbabweans describe hyperinflation




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