Zimbabwe’s National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT) has just announced that they will be changing the way they calculate and present the Poverty Datum Line in Zimbabwe. Whereas in times past the organisation has used an average household of five when presenting data they are now simply going to present the poverty datum line for one person.

Ostensibly this is inline with internetational standards but the truth is that over the past few months the data has been very un-flattering and the government has habit of massaging data it considers unfavourable. The Finance Minister once famous banned the presentation of inflation data just as inflation started to rise. His excuse was that the government had just had a currency change and needed to wait a couple of months so that it could calculate annual inflation figures that were meaningful. Something he cheerfully forgot to mention when the government started churning out blended inflation figures that were more favourable just after another currency change.

It’s not all doom and gloom however. ZIMSTAT is actually doing something we good as well. Instead of one slightly useless blanket figure covering the entire country they are going to be publishing Poverty Line figures for each province.

ZIMSTAT’s Statement on the changes

In line with International Standards of disseminating poverty statistics, the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT) will, with effect from November 2020, disseminate the Food Poverty Line (TPL) and the Total Consumption Poverty Line (TCPL) for one person. The lines will be calculated using the internationally recommended lower-bound poverty line methodology.

Previously, ZIMSTAT was disseminating poverty datum lines for one person and for a household of five persons.


in the spirit of devolution and given the variation in poverty and prices of goods and services, the poverty datum lines will be calculated and disseminated on a monthly basis by province. These lines will define on a monthly basis and by province, the expenditures in monetary value.

Zimpricecheck.com transcript of the video

To be fair

To be fair despite our criticisims and conspiracy theories ZIMSTAT has done a good job here. They have even transparently disclosed the change in methodology. That is again worthy of praise.