17 July 2008

Zimbabwe: Newspaper Prices Soar to $10 Billion

Like in Cameroon, the cover prices of most newspapers in Zimbabwe witnessed an increase in the beginning of this month.

But, unlike Cameroon, where the prices of papers were raised from FCFA 300 to FCFA 400, the newspaper prices in Zimbabwe rose from millions of Zimbabwean dollars, to billions of Zimbabwean dollars.

The new cover prices were published in the Zimbabwe national daily, The Herald in its July 1, edition. The Herald, which used to sell at 200 million Zimbabwean dollars, increased its cover price to 8 billion dollars from July 2.

The price of another state owned newspaper, The Sunday Mail, jumped from 300 million dollars to 10 billion dollars.Some of the other newspapers in Zimbabwe whose cover prices witnessed the increase, included: Chronicle - $ 8 billion, Sunday News - $ 10 billion, The Manica - 8 billion, Kwayedza - $ 4 billion, Mhunywa - $ 4 billion, New Farmer - 10 billion, The Southern Times - $ 4 billion.

As for magazines, the cover price of Trends Magazine moved up to $ 10billion, while Zimbabwe Travel jumped to a staggering $ 15 billion. The fact that a Zimbabwean newspaper today sells for billions of Zimbabwean dollars indicates the inflation rate in the country and the extent to which the Zimbabwean dollar has lost its value.

Like in the days of Idi Amin in Uganda, the Mugabe regime has reportedly set out to print money at will, without any regard to the economic implications of such an operation. A few months ago, the Mugabe regime introduced bank notes in billions of Zimbabwean dollars.

It is now hard for many to believe that a newspaper sells for $ 10 billion or a magazine for $ 15 billion.

It sounds more like a careless joke, especially considering the respect people generally have for the dollar.The unfortunate situation explains the fact that the Zimbabwean dollar has become very worthless. Many are now wont to speculate how much one would be required to buy a pair of shoes in Zimbabwe, for example, since a mere newspaper costs up to 10 billion dollars.

In Cameroon, the hike in the price of newspapers has continued to be subject of debate and anger among readers. This is coupled with the fact that the prices of almost every consumable commodity has risen in the past months.

There has also been an argument that the increase was meant for dailies, but the printing cost for both dailies and bi-weekly or others have all increased and therefore all should have similar prices.

On their part, printing presses in the country have argued for the increase, indicating that the cost of importing and transporting printing material has increased. Such increase, they posit, have been witnessed in the cost of paper, fuel and other printing materials.

Also, distributors advocated for the increase since they incur more expenditure in the distribution process due to hike in fuel prices. They therefore demand more money from newspaper owners in order to make up for the extra.

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