By Kudzai Chikiwa
Prices of basic commodities have been going up since last week and parents are struggling to buy necessities for their children who start school tomorrow.
Goods that include rice, cooking oil, cereals, sugar, washing powder, lotions, toiletries, instant noodles, snacks, sweets and juices have been on an upward trajectory in retail outlets in Bulawayo while their prices have been constant on the street.
A snap survey conducted by The Chronicle revealed that prices have gone up by up to 50 percent.
A majority of residents said they now avoid retailers and buy commodities from street vendors, whose prices were up to half of what is charged by retailers.
They called on the Government to rein in retailers, who they said were profiteering as there was no justification for the price increases.
Mrs Nompumelelo Moyo said she was having a headache trying to juggle her budget.
“I did a survey in three retail shops hoping to get better prices but it’s the same story. Things are not balancing and they exceed my budget.
Last term I forced my child to go with instant porridge because Cerevita — his choice of cereal — was expensive but now the price for instant porridge is high as well but I cannot send him away without any cereal,’’ she said.
Instant porridge has risen from an average of $2.50 to $3.25 while Cerevita remains pegged at about $3.75.
The Chronicle noted that the price of a 2kg packet of local Red Seal rice has risen from $2.50 to $2.90 while cooking oil has gone up from around $3 to about $4.20.
Instant noodles went up to $5 from $4.20 while tomato sauce now costs $1.35 from $1.10. Single ply tissue paper shot to $1.75 from an average of $1 while Farai sanitary wear now costs an average of $1.
Jumbo snacks increased from $1.80 to $2.90. Arctic mints increased from $3.20 to $4.29 while lolly pop sweets increased from $4.50 to $5.30.
The price hikes have sparked outrage among parents who are trying to balance paying bills, putting food on the table and preparations for the new school term, especially those with children going to boarding schools.
Miss Lisa Mugabe said: “School opening days are hectic, retailers increase prices forgetting that we have many expenses; school fees, groceries and transport money to send children to school.’’
Mr Denis Parrot said: “Groceries are expensive and I am stressed out trying to balance all the expenses. Where my child learns there is only one visiting day per term. Imagine sending a child to school with little or inadequate grocery. I have already been forced to remove some food items from his grocery list.’’
Another parent, Mrs Linda Nare, said for some groceries she preferred buying from vendors.
“I ended up buying snacks and juice from vendors because shops were a non starter. At times like this you forget about quality and aim for quantity and prices of goods,’’ she said.
Ms Lisca Ncube said the Government should protect consumers from greedy businesspeople.
“When the economy normalises and people have found alternative markets, the same retailers are the first to run to Government for protection. When it suits them, they exploit consumers. Such unfairness has no room under the new dispensation.
“The media should also investigate the building industry where prices have been shooting up willy nilly but manufacturers claim they last raised prices last year,” said Ms Ncube.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) president Mr Danford Mutashu said an increase of prices of basic commodities and other products is looming in Zimbabwe as people are not yet certain of the future economy.
“Usually when business people are not certain of the political status of a country, they tend to panic and this leads to price hikes. This is evident by cash commodification in the streets,” he said. Chronicle