As Zimbabweans celebrate Christmas, the majority of households will not have enough for the festivities and this is a phenomenon they had to endure throughout 2022.
The country witnessed a general price increase of basic commodities in United States dollar terms throughout the year.
Experts partly blame the inflation surge on the Russia-Ukraine war, which broke out early this year and disrupted global commodity supply chains.
According to an assessment by three United Nations agencies, namely World Food Programme, International Organisation for Migration and Food and Agriculture Organisation, the overall cost of a basic food basket in US dollar terms is 5% higher than at the same time last year.
Zimbabwe’s economy has been operating in an inflationary environment with prices of goods and services said to have increased by more than 500% in Zimbabwe dollar terms since the beginning of the year. At the same time salaries remained largely stagnant.
Year-on-year inflation increased from 61% in January 2022 to 285% in August before decreasing marginally to 255% in November, the UN agencies noted in their latest assessment report.
The high rate of inflation eroded the purchasing power of vulnerable rural and urban households throughout the year.
As if the inflation headache was not enough, Zimbabweans started experiencing punishing power cuts towards the end of the year after water levels at Kariba Dam dropped sharply.
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Most households have been enduring long hours without electricity during the festive season holidays and this has dampened their spirits.
There is no doubt that this has been a very difficult year for the ordinary citizen and it will come as a relief that 2022 is drawing to an end.
The coming year is likely to come with its own challenges, especially as Zimbabwe heads to what might be a closely contested election.
Already, the atmosphere is charged, with cases of violence being recorded and confrontational rhetoric from the ruling party towards its opponents.
Going forward, the authorities must be preoccupied with improving the lives of the ordinary citizens and help them escape the vicious cycle of poverty and violence, which defines Zimbabwe today.
It is incumbent upon political party leaders to ensure that there is de-escalation of tension in the run-up to the elections and to guarantee a free and fair poll, which will be the foundation of better economic fortunes for the country.
Zimbabweans must be able to look forward to 2023 with optimism that the economic situation will improve.