By Felex Share
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has ruled out legislation against arbitrary price increases and instead directed Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development Minister Dr Mike Bimha to bring together stakeholders and take corrective measures.
In a brief interview after the swearing-in of Vice-Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi at State House in Harare yesterday, President Mnangagwa said the spirit of profiteering should stop to ensure economic development.
“We are very concerned as Government about the general prices on the market,” President Mnangagwa said.
“I had a meeting yesterday with the Minister of Industry (Commerce and Enterprise Development) Dr Bimha (and directed him) to call the manufacturers, sellers and retailers and discuss with them. We don’t think it is good to go for legislation; we need to come to an understanding and have the people in these categories appreciate where we are coming from and where we want to go.”
The President went on: “They must have a human face. They mustn’t be profiteering because in some cases we find the same article is sold at this price in this shop, different from that shop. Why should the difference be 15-20 percent on one item? We have to interrogate those issues.”
Prices of basic goods have been spiralling since late September 2017 when social media speculated on commodity shortages ahead of the festive season, but that never happened.
This is the second time in as many weeks that President Mnangagwa has condemned price hikes.
Addressing delegates attending the 6th Buy Zimbabwe Annual Awards in Harare last week, President Mnangagwa said the practice was “counter-economic” and could not be allowed to continue.
He said business should complement Government efforts to revive the economy by refraining from counter-productive measures like selling cash and use of a multi-tier pricing system.
“We need to examine our modus operandi as captains of industry and commerce if we are ever going to move forward,” President Mnangagwa said.
“There are some dealers, suppliers and business owners who are in the habit of increasing prices willy-nilly without proper justification. Let me hasten to say my Government says no to such counter-economic practices.”
A survey report by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe ahead of the Christmas holiday showed that the cost of some items had gone down in major supermarkets.
CCZ executive director Ms Rosemary Siyachitema said: “We did a survey on major supermarkets (last week) and we have noticed that basic commodities prices in some supermarkets have decreased.
Some goods have decreased by $1 compared to other shops, so we advise consumers to shop around. The basic goods whose prices have slightly decreased include cooking oil, sugar, mealie-meal and poultry products.”
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Mr Denford Mutashu said prices would continue to decline following the National Competitiveness Commission’s intervention.
He said: “We expect the prices to go down further after Christmas. We have been engaging various stakeholders across the value chain, and have roped in the National Competitiveness Commission with a view to bringing down prices.
“We have also been engaging beef producers over the past week so that they reduce beef prices. Some of them have been taking advantage of avian flu which was affecting poultry products to increase prices of beef, which was now on demand.
Beef producers were putting exorbitant mark-ups. So, we have been engaging them to reduce prices. In addition, we have also engaged Government on the issue; we are working on the matter.” The Chronicle