Freedom Mupanedemo Midlands Bureau
Retailers and consumers in Gweru are up in arms with some unscrupulous wholesalers of basic commodities who are still maintaining a three-tier pricing regime.
The two interest groups are imploring Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development Minister Dr Mike Bimha to convene an emergency meeting with the business community, as directed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, to stop the madness.
On Thursday last week, President Mnangagwa, who said he was concerned about arbitrary price hikes, directed Dr Bimha to meet business over the issue.
A snap survey conducted by The Herald in Gweru revealed that some cash barons were now taking advantage to hoard basic goods from traditional wholesalers before they set up their own mini-wholesalers.
For example, a case of 10x2kg sugar packs, which cost between $17,50 and $17,75 in traditional wholesalers, is now being resold at different prices by cash barons depending on whether one is willing to use US dollars, bond notes or electronic payments platforms.
At one wholesale shop along Fourth Street, a case of 10x2kg sugar packs was going for $15,50 for customers using the greenback, while those using bond notes are charged $16,90.
The wholesaler in question was not accepting plastic forms of payment.
Retailers say the wholesale shops that are mushrooming in Gweru are angling to mop up cash from the market.
“These wholesale shops belong to some cash barons who go to chain wholesalers like N Richards and Gain Cash and Carry where they then buy all the products on demand using swipe,” said Mr Richard Mwale, who runs some grocery shops in Mkoba suburb.
“They then resell those products at a cheaper wholesale price, but only accepting cash.” Another retailer, Mr Godfrey Karimazondo of TinMac Trading, said wholesale shops run by cash barons should be investigated.
“After mopping up cash from selling their products, they then approach people in desperate need for cash to make a bank transfer, but there will be a certain percentage charged,” he said.