For the past three months, the wanton price increases for basic commodities and the prevailing cash shortages have caused great distress for Zimbabweans.
Prices of most basic commodities have more than doubled since November last year, a development which has been attributed to speculation and profiteering by producers and retailers.
The opening of the new school term saw the prices of school uniforms going up, with some of the leading retailers in Harare increasing the prices of school uniforms by between 35 and 40 percent.
President Mnangagwa has warned unscrupulous businesspeople that Government will come down hard on them.
Equating the random price increases to economic sabotage, Government has resolved to deal with the issue decisively.
Responding to the wanton price increases, the ruling party, Zanu-PF set up an ad-hoc committee to curb the increases.
To show that it meant serious business, Zanu-PF put the committee under the revolutionary party’s Second Secretary and Vice President General Constantino Chiwenga (Retired).
Various strategies to put an end to the price increases will soon be introduced.
The Minister of Industry and Commerce, Cde Mike Bimha is on record attributing the rampant price increases to misleading social media reports, among other factors.
A snap survey conducted by The Sunday Mail Society on Thursday revealed that businesses in Harare had not taken heed of the calls by Government to desist from engaging in the three-tier pricing system.
Shopping in downtown Harare proved to be a nightmare as businesses insisted on several conditions.
Seemingly unfazed by the Government’s stern warning, some shop owners were demaning cash payments, refusing any other forms of payment in the process.
“We want cash, and nothing else,” quipped a shop attendant.
Asked why the shop owner was not responding to the calls by Government to adhere to set business practices, the attendant went into overdrive, passing the buck to the producers and wholesalers.
“We buy using cash. I have no choice but to also sell my wares in cash. If I accept payment in other forms, we will not be able to go back and restock,” the attendant explained.
When a client opted to pay using bond coins, the shop attendant refused them.
“I have too much of those. The shop owner has set for us a limit on the amount of coins to take. We are only taking notes as of now,” the attendant explained.
Most shops in the city discouraged the use of the mobile phone payment platforms. A parent who wanted to purchase a satchel that was pegged at $26 was told to pay $36 using any mobile money platform for the same product. The shop owner argued that he also buys the products in cash.
The majority of those in the motor parts industry are using the three-tier pricing system as they prefer mostly the United States dollars to any other forms of payment.
For engine oil, most dealers prefer the US dollar, with the majority of the second-hand car parts dealers refusing mobile phone payment platform. Those that were accepting the payment platform were charging more than 20 percent more.
Meanwhile, the illegal sale of scarce cash on the black market continues unabated as the dealers, chiefly among them newspaper vendors, take advantage of the shortage to milk desperate people seeking cash.
Illegal cash dealers, who conduct their illegal transactions in broad daylight, are charging as much as 40 percent interest to those seeking cash.
The illegal sale of cash is not only confined to Harare but to the major towns and cities across the country.
Banks have been accused of fuelling the currency black market by moving bond notes onto the streets.
Economists had, however, hinted that the introduction of the bond notes would fuel a three-tier pricing system.
In an interview during the introductory phase of the bond notes, economist Mr Kingstone Kanyere, said then that although the introduction of the notes will result in the RBZ having influence over money supply, the notes will have an inflationary effect on pricing.
“The notes will increase money supply and circulation, resulting in the increase in purchasing power. However, we are likely going to witness a situation in which goods and services are charged differently depending on whether one is using bond notes or other currencies,” Mr Kanyere said.
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