Kudzanai Gerede Business Correspondent
THE setting up of an ad-hoc committee by the ruling Zanu-PF party’s highest decision making body, the Politburo, last Wednesday to tackle unwarranted price increases has been hailed as a timeous intervention to contain profiteering by unscrupulous business people at the expense of the nation.
The committee will be led by the ruling party’s Second Secretary and Vice President, General Costantino Guveya Chiwenga (Rtd).
Prices shot up sharply following a social media hoax of impending food shortages last September and since then they have continued on an upward trend prompting the President Emmerson Mnangagwa to act.
The President warned those behind the wanton prices hikes that their days were numbered as the committee would investigate the root of the problem and bring offenders to book.
The move has been seen as a major stamp of action on promises the new leadership made to the suffering people of Zimbabwe that the new dispensation will improve their lives.
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe chairperson, Mrs Rosemary Siyachitema told The Manica Post that the development has shown commitment by the ruling party to the plight of the people.
“It is their duty as the leadership of the people to address issues that impact on the citizenry. We are happy that the issue of rising inflation has finally been addressed by the highest office and we look forward to fruitful solutions to this challenge.
“We have been doing surveys and since May last year that is when we started to bemoan price increases, so finally we feel relieved that there is support from the top office,” said Mrs Siyachitema.
Some retailers have put the blame on unscrupulous wholesalers whom they accuse of unveiling products to street vendors who will sell the products on the parallel market demanding hard cash as compared to availing the same to formal retailers, who will make payments through banking channels as they seek quick cash.
Economic analyst, Mr Kipson Gundani welcomed the move saying it is going to readjust the pricing model in the economy if strict oversight in the setting up of prices is implemented.
“There is a desperate need for discipline in pricing on the market. Surely leaders ought to find the solution to the problem. I am particularly excited that from what the committee has been tasked to do, it’s to simply investigate what justification is there for price hiking and identifying culprits to this problem.
“This is therefore not a price-control game at play, they are not dictating prices because both in theory and in practice it has always proven that price controls do not work and I am confident our leaders are not oblivious to that fact.
“So this is a very welcome move,” said Gundani, from Buy Zimbabwe, a local content lobby group. Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailer president, Denford Mutashu, implored on Government to work hand in glove with business in stemming out price indiscipline within the productive value chains as they contribute to the final product price on the shelve.
“The price increase has been necessitated on two fronts. First the shortage of foreign currency to import some products which local producers are failing to adequately supply on the market.
“Secondly, it’s the greed by individual traders who are increasing prices unjustifiably not based on cost of production. We implore the task force to deal with the issue of cash selling in the streets which is the cause of inflation as rates are being distorted on the parallel market,” said Mr Mutashu.