Concealing inflation figures will cause unrest, govt told

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By Costa Nkomo

GOVERNMENT’S suspension of year-on-year inflation figures has the potential to drive citizens into the streets, social justice watchdog, Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) has warned.

In his 2019 supplementary budget review, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube barred the Zimbabwe National Statistic Agency (ZimStats) from issuing out monthly inflation updates citing inaccuracies in numbers he said are caused by the introduction of a mono-currency that came into effect in June under the Statutory Instrument (SI) 142/2019.

In its analysis of the 2019 Mid-Year Budget Review and Supplementary Budget released this Friday, Zimcodd said speculation among citizens posed a danger to the country.

“Lack of reliable information has a danger of causing social unrest as citizens are left to speculate on key development indicators.

“Without access to government sources, rational beings will rely on alternative sources of information which in most cases will worsen people’s reaction,” the civic group said.

“This takes away the right of citizens and permanent residents of Zimbabwe to information guaranteed by Section 62 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

“Inflation remains a critical indicator that requires continuous monitoring by citizens, business and the government of Zimbabwe.”

SI 142 also abolished the use of the multi-currency regime that had been in use in Zimbabwe for the past 10 years.

“Given this transition, ZimStat will defer publication of year-on-year inflation, while building up data of prices in mono-currency for a period of 12 months to February 2020,” Ncube said last week.

Ncube’s move irked the country’s opposition which claimed the decision was unconstitutional.

From the beginning of 2019, yearly inflation has been on the rise having opened at over 50% has since hit 176% official figures for June showed raising fears of another meltdown as witnessed in 2008.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has embarked on a reform agenda that he argues will set the country on a firm foundation for future growth.

However, the austerity measures have caused untold suffering among citizens.