Prices of basic goods have spiked in recent weeks putting a damper on festivities as Zimbabweans ready to celebrate the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Most Zimbabweans are likely to find this year’s Christmas and the New Year celebrations subdued as they struggle to make ends meet due to rocketing prices at a time the economy took a knock from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The central bank, however, blamed the ‘business mentality of high mark-ups’.
A snap survey by Business Times this week revealed that a two kilogramme chicken has gone up to ZWL$746 this week from below ZWL$600.
A kg of economy beef now costs ZWL$709.80 from about ZWL$489.
Fresh Kapenta is now at ZWL$161 from ZWL$87.
A 2-litre bottle of cooking oil has gone up to ZWL$299.99 this week from ZWL$249.
A 2kg rice is now ZWL$266.99 from ZWL$224, while a 10kg roller meal has also gone up to ZWL$520 from ZWL$489.
In addition to that the prices of fuel have gone up, which has a negative impact of pushing up prices of goods.
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe deputy executive director, Rose Mpofu bemoaned the price increases saying: “We appreciate the governor (of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, John Mangudya) and the finance minister (Mthuli Ncube) for talking about stability in the economy.
But the situation on the ground is that prices are going up.”
Peter Mutasa, the president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions this week said workers have been reduced to ‘paupers’.
Most prices are now beyond the reach of many workers.
“Workers have nothing in their pockets or bank accounts to finance any festivities.
It’s going to be a sad Christmas,” Mutasa said.
Mangudya, however, blamed business saying: “We are seeing that the economy is not doing badly.
Unfortunately, business is used to high mark ups.
So, the issue of prices going up is a continuation of high mark ups mentality.”
Independent member of the National Assembly for Norton, Temba Mliswa said:“There are no queues to buy those goods in shops because people have no buying power.
“Salaries have not gone up in tandem with inflation. If annual inflation is about 400% and salaries have gone up by about 20% on average, it does not help and is short of the buying power.
“So, I am surprised when I see people clapping hands when the minister or governor says the economy is doing well and there is stabilisation. We seem to be patronising politics.”
University of Zimbabwe economics lecturer, Moses Chundu said the shops were fully stocked but “people have no buying power because prices continue going up”.
Another University of Zimbabwe lecturer, Nyasha Kaseke attacked the government for increasing tariffs for public utilities saying the sharp increases have serious ramifications on market stability.
Zinara recently increased tolling fees from ZWL$45 to ZWL$120 for a light vehicle.
Kaseke described the rocketing prices of public utilities as ‘government inflation’.
“The increase in tollgate, utilities by the government have resulted in general price increases by the private sector as the private sector tries to match the increase in prices to match cost,” Kaseke said.
“This has resulted in an increase in exchange rate as the black market players match the increase in price. The new fuel price is matched as the new black market rate.
Therefore, the recent increase in prices may be referred to as government induced inflation.”