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Last Updated: Friday, 22 June 2007, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
US says Zimbabwe change is afoot
Zimbabwean children eat at the Masarira primary school ( 02 April 2007)
Hyperinflation has made food expensive to produce and buy
Zimbabwe's hyperinflation will force President Robert Mugabe from power, the US ambassador to the country has said.

Speaking to a UK newspaper, Christopher Dell predicted that inflation will leap to 1.5m% by the end of the year.

He said political discontent at Mr Mugabe's "disastrous economic policies" meant Zimbabwe was "committing regime change upon itself".

Zimbabwe has 80% unemployment and independent economists say inflation is running at 11,000% per year.

On Thursday, the value of the Zimbabwean dollar plummeted with black market exchange rates reaching 300,000 Zimbabwean dollars to one US dollar. The official rate is 15,000 to one.

'Lost faith'

"I believe inflation will hit 1.5m% by the end of 2007, if not before," Mr Dell told the Guardian newspaper, adding that he believed this was a "modest forecast".

He said prices were going up twice a day and people were turning to bartering rather than using rapidly devaluing cash.

Inflation: 4,500% (official estimate)
Unemployment: 80%
4m need food aid
Life expectancy: 37 (men), 34 (women)

"It destabilises everything. People have completely lost faith in the currency and that means they have completely lost faith in the government that issues it."

Mr Mugabe, 83, has already made it clear that he wants to stand for re-election but Mr Dell said he thought change would come sooner.

"Things have reached a critical point. I believe the excitement will come in a matter of months, if not weeks. The Mugabe government is reaching end game, it is running out of options."

On Thursday, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai made similar predictions of an impending end to Mr Mugabe's rule.

"He's got an economy that's down on its knees, he knows he cannot sustain it," Mr Tsvangirai told the Associated Press.

"He knows he has an army that is jittery. He knows all his popular pillars of support are up against him."

Morgan Tsvangirai on achieving democratic change

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