THE past week has been characterised by heavy panicking in the market that resulted in shortages of some essentials especially fuel, cooking oil and an assortment of other consumables that make up our daily diet.
This panic was caused by speculation which was fuelled by misleading and toxic information relayed via social media. Residents panicked and took all their savings to buy whatever they deemed basic.
In the midst of this commotion some unscrupulous retailers made a killing, increasing prices at will and at the end of the day consumers were the hardest hit.
Fuel companies were the most stubborn, hoarding delivered fuel for speculative purposes and this resulted in long winding queues.
At some service stations in Mutare they demanded cash and disowned electronic money.
The same can be said of some supermarkets, who deliberately removed items from the shelves and stashed them at the backyard waiting for a rise. Only the likes of OK and Pick and Pay were not part of this irrational exploitative behaviour. A survey in Mutare’s Central Business District showed that some shops were refusing electronic transfers and bond notes. They only accepted foreign currency, in blatant breach of directives issued by Government. Early this week Government directed that prices of basic commodities that were increased without justification be reduced immediately.
This directive was sweet news and it brought back smiles on consumers who were being ripped off in broad day light. However, that directive needs urgent enforcement. It is the hope of many that the responsible authorities get to the ground and enforce this directive because most of the retailers have not taken heed of the call.
Consumers are still paying through the nose to buy a 2litre bottle of cooking oil which is going for $10 or more.
It seems these middlemen have grown thick skin and it requires more than just pronouncements to whip them into line. Their actions are slowly showing their political character and Government must not watch and do nothing while these unscrupulous entrepreneurs take the nation for a ride.
At the moment, our economy is fragile and any opposing action that has an effect of drawing back progress must not be tolerated.
The greater good must always come first ahead of individual interests. The nation cannot be taken advantage of by a few people who want to profiteer without producing anything.
By analysing the forces at hand, it is clear all these shortages are purely artificial. They are a product of some people who want to either line their pockets or make people protest against the Government.
What surprises is that suppliers of these basic commodities that have vanished from shop shelves are saying they have not increased prices since Government has assured them continuous supply of foreign currency to fuel production but we have these retailers along the supply chain who are increasing the price of the same commodity which they do not even produce even when the same was delivered to them at their doorstep for no charge.
Government must take stern measures on retailers who are rejecting bond notes. These entrepreneurs are well known and they should be named and shamed. Consumers must be on the forefront to protect themselves from these thieving companies by reporting them to the relevant authorities.
Government has assured the nation that there is enough fuel and why panic?
Economic crimes are hurting the economy and in the absence of specialised units to effectively bring perpetrators of this type of vice to book, Zimbabwe will forever be at the mercy of these greedy individuals who are amassing wealth without even contributing anything to the Gross Domestic Product.
As such, the fight against illegal foreign currency dealers must continue with venom and no mercy must be shown to those convicted.
Lengthy jail terms for offenders will help in removing these malcontents from further hurting the economy.
This economy requires everyone’s input. A paradigm shift is paramount and Zimbabweans must get out of the selfish mode and become national in character.