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Last Updated: Friday, 1 December 2006, 15:27 GMT
Zimbabwe jail over bread prices
Loaf of bread in empty trolley
Some shops are running out of bread
Two of Zimbabwe's senior bakers have started a four-month prison sentence after being convicted of breaking government price controls.

They were arrested in Zimbabwe after raising prices from 185 Zimbabwe dollars to Z$300 (US$1.20).

Zimbabwe has the world's highest rate of annual inflation, more than 1,000%, and the bakers argued that the official price was below the production cost.

The government introduced price controls in order to tackle inflation.

Many shops have now run out of bread.

Life expectancy 30 years
High dependency on food aid
20% adult HIV prevalence
Shortages of basic foodstuffs
High unemployment
Inflation 1,200%

Correspondents say shops are instead stocking buns and scones which are not covered by the government controls.

Harare magistrate Faith Mushure said the jail term would serve as a deterrent to other businessman.

"A correct message should be sent to other would-be offenders lest they get attracted to this fast-becoming-notorious practice of overcharging," she said.

A lawyer for the two men, Burombo Mudomo and Lemmy John Chikomo, said he was urgently trying to get them bail pending appeal.

They are senior executives at Lobels, one of Zimbabwe's biggest bakers.

Mr Mudumo heads the National Bakers Association and says several smaller companies have closed because of the price controls.

The official price of Z$200 has not been increased for a year.

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