Zimbabwe central bank leaves rates unchanged, bullish on inflation, what you need to know…


HARARE, Feb 17 (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s central bank left its benchmark interest rate at 35% on Monday, citing moderating inflation, as it looks to print more local currency and limit the use of foreign currencies.

Zimbabwe is struggling through its worst economic crisis in a decade, with prices of basic goods soaring and shortages of medicine, fuel and electricity worsening. Hopes of a quick recovery under President Emmerson Mnangagwa are fading.

The worsening poverty is upsetting the fragile calm that’s prevailed since the 2017 coup that toppled long-time ruler Robert Mugabe.

After suspending publication of annual inflation data, which economic analysts put at 525% in December, authorities will resume printing the figures next month.

Governor John Mangudya was bullish on inflation, projecting that annual price growth would dip below 50% by the end of the year. Monthly inflation fell in January to 2.23%

“Our task is we stabilize inflation and stabilize the exchange rate. We expect month-on-month inflation will continue to come down until the end of the year,” Mangudya said.

“Most of the inflation is caused by non-monetary factors. That is expectations – that ‘I lost money in 2008’,” Mangudya said. “This is a once-beaten, twice-shy scenario. These are things that shape inflation in Zimbabwe.”

Zimbabweans have little confidence in monetary policy after pensions and savings were wiped out at the height of hyperinflation, which reached 500 billion% in 2008 and forced the country to dump its local currency.

Last year in June, Zimbabwe ended a decade of dollarisation, which fuelled inflation. Mangudya said it would take up to five years to completely wean Zimbabwe from using the U.S. dollar in local transactions.

Seeking to reassure investors, the governor said foreign currency accounts held by companies, donors and individuals were safe, while businesses like mines would continue to receive a portion of their export earnings in dollars.

To ease shortages of cash, the bank will feed higher- denomination Zimbabwe dollar notes into the economy while increasing transparency on foreign currency trading to stabilise the exchange rate.

The central bank governor said he still saw economic growth at 3% in 2020, citing improved rainfall since mid January.

(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe, writing by Mfuneko Toyana; editing by William Maclean, Larry King)

Related Content

South African economy to shrink 4.9% in 2020, SARB to cut rates in May – Poll

South Africa’s economy will contract sharply this year as activity is hit by the coronavirus outbreak, despite expectations the central bank will cut interest rates again in May, a Reuters poll found on Monday.

Nigeria’s headline inflation rises for 7th month in a row

Nigeria's headline inflation rose for the seventh consecutive month in March, expanding by 6 basis points to 12.26 per cent, while food inflation also rose to 14.98 per cent. Sam Chidoka, Managing Director of Kairos Capital joins CNBC Africa for more.

South African banking index falls over 4% after SARB advises against dividends

South Africa’s banking index opened 4.3% lower on Tuesday, a day after the country’s central bank said it had advised lenders not to pay dividends or bonuses amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Our top share picks for the brave investor: Finding opportunities in times of adversity

“In times of extreme market volatility (and corrections), it is often unnecessary for investors to look far down the quality curve to find attractive opportunities that will generate significant returns in future. This is oftentimes the correct strategy as those economic uncertainties causing market volatility can have far more dire consequences for lower-quality businesses,” writes Stephán Engelbrecht, Fund Management.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up for free newsletters and get more CNBC AFRICA delivered to your inbox

More from CNBC Africa

African born Billionaire Elon Musk’s net worth zooms past Warren Buffett’s

The blistering rally also puts Musk in reach of a payday potentially worth $1.8 billion, his second jackpot from the electric car maker in about two months.

U.S. sets record for new COVID cases third day in a row at over 69,000

“If we don’t adopt this best practice it could lead to a shutdown of business,” the Republican governor told local KLBK-TV in Lubbock, adding it was the last thing he wanted.

South Africa set to make SAA funding commitment, official says

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The South African government is “on course” to provide a funding commitment for the restructuring of loss-making South African...

Akinwumi Adesina pays tribute to Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly

A humble man. A selfless man. A faithful man. A shining light. We met and spoke together on several forums around the world: on the plane, at airports, in high level forums and summits. My impression of him was the same: calm; wise; insightful. A man of few words, whose every word was always well honed for impact. He spoke always from his heart. An he had a heart of gold.

Partner Content

Uber launches its largest region-wide initiative in partnership with Mastercard

Uber, in partnership with Mastercard to provide 120,000 free trips to frontline workers in MEA, including South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ivory Coast...

Maktech’s Godwin Makyao: Now Is A Time of Entrepreneurial Opportunity in East Africa

As an executive decision-maker in both the telecommunications and tourism industries, Godwin Makyao could not have experienced a more diverse set of...

Trending Now

Congo justice minister resigns after judicial reform dispute

KINSHASA (Reuters) - The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Justice Minister Celestin Tunda tendered his resignation on Saturday in the wake of a...

Veteran Zimbabwe farmer pours cold water on $58 million mission from Belarus with love.

“Belarus tractors have never been known for their quality or power. They were never bought by Zimbabwe farmers in the past. Training up 1000 Zimbabwe farmers isn’t the answer.

Congo central bank keeps 2020 economic growth forecast at -2.4%

(Reuters) - The Democratic Republic of Congo’s central bank kept its 2020 economic growth forecast unchanged at -2.4% because of the uncertainty...

South Africa’s rand recovers but caution remains, stocks slip

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand recovered in afternoon trade on Friday, after sliding earlier due to concerns about rising COVID-19 cases...
- Advertisement -