I get to periodically do an overview of the cost of living in Zimbabwe. We are just about to conclude the month of September so let us go over some costs of basic commodities. Back in February, a family of 5 needed an average of ZWL$70000 to cater for their monthly expenses. That was around US$250 at the time but the amount has since gone up over the months. Now, as indicated by ZIMSTAT, an average family of 6 requires roughly ZWL$150000 per month to cater for daily expenses.
The Latest Statistics – ZIMSTAT
The Food Poverty Line (FPL) for an individual in Zimbabwe right now is roughly ZWL$4800. The Total Consumption Poverty Line (TCPL) is roughly ZWL$6700. The TCPL by the way represents the minimum amount of income needed for one to not be regarded as poor. This ZWL$150000 for a family of 6 represents a 4.8 surge from the previous month. The sad reality though is that the majority of Zimbabweans are earning less than ZWL$150000 per month.
Transportation was mainly restricted the past couple of months, especially intercity travel. It is only recently that intercity travel was resumed. ZUPCO remains the cheapest be it local travel or intercity travel. At one point ZUPCO had hiked fares by 100+ per cent but later on reconsidered their move. Presently the fares are what were announced following a review done in mid-July. Trips of less than 20 kilometres cost ZWL$40.
For trips ranging from 31 to 40 kilometres, the fare is ZWL$80. As for kombi rides, they are going for ZWL$60. This means commuting costs usually US$1 or less for a trip. That puts most people at US$1 to US$2 (or more in some cases) per day for transport. For a month that would translate to a mean range of US$25 to US$50 (or more) for daily transport to and fro work.
Fuel And Gas
Effective 5 September, fuel and gas prices were reviewed. A litre of petrol now goes for US$1.38 or ZWL$118.42. A litre of diesel now costs US$1.34 or ZWL$115.15. Liquid petroleum (LP) gas is going for US$1.92 or ZWL$164.94 per kilogram. These are gazetted price caps but operators can peg prices lower than them as their competitive advantages allow.
The stepped electricity tariffs are as follows:
First 50 units – ZWL$2.12 per unit
51 to 100 units – ZWL$4.25 per unit
101 to 200 units – ZWL$7.44 per unit
201 to 300 units – ZWL$10.62 per unit
301 to 400 units – ZWL$12.21 per unit
401 and above – ZWL$12.74 per unit
When it comes to electricity bear in mind there is also a 6 per cent Rural Electrification Agency (REA) Levy. So if you are factoring in that levy you will find that the first 200 units currently cost roughly ZWL$1200. You must also bear in mind that at times the ZETDC reviews tariffs without making official announcements.
The accommodation has not changed that much over the months. This is because landlords have always been pegging rentals in US dollars or Rands. So in as much as the exchange rates have been shifting the rentals have remained largely the same. As good as that sounds that does not do much for most people though. Most people still get salaries in RTGS dollars. That means they have to go to the parallel market to source foreign currency. With that in mind, it is apparent many still struggle to settle their monthly rentals.
Life is bleak for many Zimbabweans right now. Imagine the many Zimbabweans getting paid in RTGS$. They end up having to buy US dollars on the parallel market. The divide between those two is huge i.e. salary is determined using ZWL$85 to the US dollar. On the parallel market, you will have to pay as much as ZWL$160 just to get that US$ dollar. Imagine one earns ZWL$150000 per month (many earn less anyways). That is roughly US$160 on the parallel market. Let us suppose rent is US$50; already you are left with US$75. By the time you buy food and electricity, you will be done to peanuts left. What about transport, children’s fees, and what nought. Currently, almost 80 per cent of Zimbabwean salaries are catering for only food and rent. Let us always remember others; they might be in dire need but pretending as if all is well.