Shoppers resist price increases • Govt warns media for peddling falsehoods • Supermarkets well stocked, trading normally

A customer stands by stacks of rice and sugar in a supermarket in Harare yesterday. — Picture by Tawanda Mudimu

A customer stands by stacks of rice and sugar in a supermarket in Harare yesterday. — Picture by Tawanda Mudimu

Herald Reporters
Major supermarkets and other outlets in and around Harare were trading normally over the weekend and taking all forms of payment, putting to shame reports on social media that prices of basic commodities had doubled due to rising inflation.

Government dismissed the mischievous reports, warning those who abused social media to peddle false information risked arrest.

The public panicked over the weekend after tuckshop operators and small businesses started hiking prices and rejecting Ecocash and bank transfers as a means of payment.

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People started stocking cartons of cooking oil, soap and other groceries, creating an artificial shortage in parts of the city.

A survey by The Herald yesterday showed that bigger supermarkets like OK, Pick n Pay, Spar, Choppies and others were fully stocked and trading at normal prices while accepting all forms of payment.

In a statement last night, Home Affairs Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo dismissed as false and unfounded social media claims of chaos in the currency markets.

“The Ministry of Home Affairs’ attention has been drawn to a sudden spate of irresponsible press and social media reports falsely claiming that there is chaos in the currency markets that has precipitated widespread panic buying of basic commodities due to their alleged shortage or skyrocketing prices,” said Minister Chombo.

He said it was notable that the running thread of these hyperbolic press and social media reports was their propaganda that the country had suddenly slipped back to the hyperinflationary days of 2008.

“Of grave concern to the ministry is that these reports have all the trappings of a politically coordinated criminal agenda by some well-known renegades and malcontents who now seek to disturb the peace in the country to cause alarm and despondency in pursuit of an alleged political programme.”

Minister Chombo said spreading alarm and despondency was not an expression of democracy nor was it media freedom.

Minister Chombo

Minister Chombo

“It is a criminal offense and is therefore punishable. In the circumstances, Government is closely monitoring the press and social media reports in question with a view to taking decisive action to deal a telling blow to the perpetrators of the crime in terms of the laws of the country’s criminal justice system.”

In some shops, cooking oil shelves were empty while other traders restricted each customer to buy a single 2-litre bottle.

Panic buying began on Saturday morning but by late yesterday the situation had normalised.

Disturbingly, some general dealers in Glen View and parts of Chitungwiza were reportedly selling 2-litre bottles of cooking oil for as much as between $5 and $8,50 from $3,39.

Hardware shops selling building materials in Mbare lost business yesterday due to price distortions. Some customers rejected the ridiculous prices and terms of trade.

Moto Steel, which sells deformed bars and other steel materials in Mbare, was demanding only United States dollars, with no price list for transfers or bond notes and coins.

“We are only accepting US dollars cash. No swipe and we also do not accept bond notes. If you need a price list for bond notes, Ecocash or swipe, try to check with us tomorrow or Tuesday,” said a shop attendant.

Steel Centre was taking bond notes but had doubled prices of its merchandise.

For 12-millimetre deformed bars, Steel Centre was charging US$3 each and $6 bond notes. It wasn’t accepting swipe or Ecocash transactions.

Sure Cast Cement (42,5) was increased from $11,80 per 50kg bag to $12 at hardware shops at Manyame Park Complex in Chitungwiza while the price of a PPC PC15 (32,5) bag of cement rose from $10,70 to $10,90 yesterday.

The hardware shops at the complex were accepting all forms of payment.

Long queues were observed at major fuel traders like Total and Puma where they were accepting all forms of payment. Smaller dealers were demanding cash payments only.

At Mashwede Service Station near Matapi Police Station in Mbare, fuel attendants were demanding cash and turned away motorists who wanted to use swipe cards or Ecocash.

Glow Petroleum service stations in and around the city were also demanding cash while Trek Service Station along Seke Road turned away motorists who wanted to use bank cards claiming the system was down.

Over the weekend, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said it had increased foreign currency allocation for basic and essential commodities to curtail threats of shortages.

RBZ Governor Dr John Mangudya said the central bank would allocate an additional US$30 million a week for basic and essential commodities imports with an additional US$15 million being spent on fuel and electricity imports.

He said the injection of additional foreign currency followed marginal increases in prices of goods and commodities in most shops in Harare fuelled by speculative social media reports of impending shortages.

The development triggered panic buying and illegal monetary transactions.

Dr Mangudya dismissed suggestions that most basic commodities were beginning to disappear from shop shelves.

The RBZ has also introduced a US$600 million Nostro Stabilisation Facility from Cairo-headquartered African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) to start addressing the foreign currency deficit on the market.

The nostro stabilisation facility is meant to deal with ongoing delays in the processing of foreign payments by banks for the procurement of productive imports as part of a raft of measures to stabilise the economy.

The facility will cover the foreign currency gap that widened after the closure of the 2017 tobacco marketing season.

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  • chakutareal

    Editor please come to OK Mart Hillside Harare and see for yourself how prices have gone heywire

  • Ezekiel

    Why are you like that ? urikuwaneiko? Saka Mafuta atiri kunzi tengai necash iNewsday neDaily news varikudaro here ?

    • i am zimbabwean

      a proble is definately there, but the way private media describe certain situations, its as if zimbabwe will no longer be in existence the following day…shortages are truly there and the government could not be doing enough, but private media is acting to discourage faith in the ruling gvt.. after looking at a few facts it all comes down to jongwe vs mbama…thats a debate which can never be settled, the one’s who aren’t ruling all they want to do is to rule also, you think they truly care about you… varikutoda kudyawo..
      the only advise i could give is be careful where you get your news from, unotenge 2ltrs ye mafuta for $8 bcz u believed the first thing that came to your ears. zimbabwe makadzidza but you run away from facts just because you want to believe what you believe (metaphor)… hahaha

      REGISTER TO VOTE, vamwe venyu vaku complainer hamuna ku voter 2013..ssshhhhh

      GO & REGISTER TO VOTE TODAY

      roughly 7 million of you from 18 years didn’t vote 2013..
      hameno pamwe manga makamirira kuzo vhotera Donald Trump…

    • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

      Newspapers propagating political nonsense. Is it true that we are now in the 2008 situation as one of Western controlled Daily said? If we still have economic complications and hardships due to the long term effects of sanctions, why do these newspapers not balance their reports in the national interests. Anenge achida kutonga must just prepare to fight in the 2018 which will be free and fair. Zimbabweans are literate and numerate. They understand the casus belli with the West and its locally controlled newspapers.

  • Hacha Duke of Enkeldoorn

    Munhu anotengesa nePrice yaada. Zviri kuvatengi kutenga kana kurega

  • mac

    I have never seen such confusion and foolishness like the one our government shows. Always in denial and thinking they are always right.

  • Hacha Duke of Enkeldoorn

    Herald – just tell the truth for once and inform the people that the ZANU PF Government has failed. All this blame game will not help anyone. When is ZANU PF going to own up and take the blame for once? The independent papers and social media are not responsible for the cash shortages. It is the failed economic policies of ZANU PF that caused the cash shortages. The independent papers and social media are also not responsible for the devaluation of the bond notes. Bond notes are an idea by ZANU PF and now that it is quite apparent that it was a very bad idea (we told them so) they should not blame the newspapers. The buck stops at the feet of the President – no other person should ever take blame.

  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    All is not well,mainly because of satanic sanctions which your MDCT supports. This has nothing to do with ZANU PF. Any thieves is our society are like any other thief, not ZANU PF thief. When one lecherous MDCT leader became open zip excited, did you paint all your MDCT members as such? Pafunge. Iwe zvauri bearded, hazvireve kuti all those against ZANU PF vatove ana mandebvu. Ndiwe zvakoka unoda kunzi mandebvu. Kkkiiii.

  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    Those who fear elections are trying to cause unrest , hoping for any “Egypt style democracy“ . Circulating lies about our economic situation wont win any governing opportunity for the political opposition mongrels. Yedza zvimwe kwete izvozvo. Tuma drunk pastors twenyu tucha shaya zvimwe zvekuyedza. Instead of reading Matthew chapter 5 ka pastor kongoreve nhema muchechi ye satanism inosapota ma sanctions nhai? Tibvireipo. Nehanda forbid!

  • fundi

    The authorities must deal with the mentioned fuel service stations as some would be seen filling drums.

  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    Iwe mukadzi mukuru kufumira kuita parroting nonsense ya Evan Mawarire , haunyare. If the people believe your hogwash , then lets meet in the 2018 elections. The majority of Zimbabweans understand our economic nadir causality equation than you few monority Moe_ Scyslsck2 and stupid pastors. Aluta continua. Viva povo Zimbabweano! Viva ZANU PF !

    • Tamuka

      But Cde do you mean we should vote Zanu to get more sanctions. Meanwhile our grandpa is busy meddling into bilateral issues between USA and Korea.Kuda kungoita manyemwe ekuda kuombererwa and what do we get from that, more sanctions.

      • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

        You mean all nations should put their diplomatic tails before Trump in fear of sanctions. What had our dear said against the US before ZEDERA? Our land reform ????. The US angered by us dismantling colonial Boer “land rights“? Its evil for US to abuse its power. Period.

  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    Bond notes are not the problem but a palliative against the negative effects sanctions. I know you dont believe in the negative effects of sanctions because you are a foolish foot soldier of regime change forces.

    • Cry My Beloved Country

      I do think you are the biggest fool. If bond notes are not the problem, why are they being traded by money changers at alarming rates? Why are other traders refusing them? I just tried to test the waters yesterday and went to Road Port. Bonds were being traded at a premium of 40%. Someone requiring USD100 would need to fork out 140 bollars. That’s the problem with zanu pf people. Makajaira chibakera nguva dzose asi dzmiwe nguva mhanda haishande. You can’t continue to force your stupid policies down innocent people’s throats. Like some intelligent person said, “you can rig elections but not the economy”. The economy will always require that you meet certain fundamentals Mr Fool.

      • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

        Bond notes are weaker than the US dollar in a real market. We have to export more . I understand the reason better than you. The rate 1 to 1 is not sustainable. So its not the bond notes which are the problem but lack of our own earning adequate foreign currency to support the 1 to 1 rate. The suffering of our economy and people at large is not only a ZANU PF problem as we continue to fight sanctions. You were misled that your MDCT would win elections when people suffer from sanctions. Zvino hapana iyoyo. ZANU PF will win again in 2018.

  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    Yes I share your view that our government wont allow the 2008 history repeating this time around. A ZANU PF controlled government is not given to the a game of “political kamikazi“! Politically hell bent alarmists will be proved wrong. Yes we still have economic problems , but no looming of the 2008.

  • godfrey

    The government must resist the temptation to arrest people for ‘peddling falsehoods’ as they call it. It is counterproductive as it gives the impression of panic or unnecessary heavy handedness. If anybody is lying they should be exposed through the the correct facts and figures (truth). Governments are the biggest monopoly the world over. They have such a monopoly on power among others and it is a good thing when governments act like gentle giants, exercising that power with moderation and humanely. Remember one’s level of civilisation is judged not on the basis of how you treat those that you like/love( friends, relatives etc) but those that you don’t necessarily like/love!

  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    ZEC is going to add more centers all over the country. Few pilot centres are just the beginning. That is the true position.

  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    Its not as easy as you are putting it. Its not the bonds that drove out the out foreign currency. There was shortage of currency before bonds were introduced. Yes there are pros and cons on any economic policy . Other non economic factors can influence policy outcomes. Fundamentally, our economy has to earn more forex by exporting. Even the rand as forex has to be earned also , not just printed for us by Zuma ! I cant follow or accept your “A“ level economics.

    • Kitsiyatotata

      Musaite hasha vakuru…just relax and take a deep breath… let the market forces play their part. Kana forex iripo zvinoita chero vanhu vakatenga zvakawanda sei zvinodzoka pashelf. What it means is that next time we will allocate less resources towards zvakazadzwa nevanhu mudzimba cheque book roramba raka balancer. The real problem in Zimbabwe is fiscal indiscipline of our leaders. If you carry a thousand strong delegation to a useless meeting, people can read between the lines kuti mari ndeyeku burner. Kana uribaba mumba ukati pamba hapana mari usauye waka sticker nedoro nekuti vana havazozvinzwisisa.

  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    What exposure?

  • i am zimbabwean

    Taurai zvenyu mukoma its buying your your coffin early because kuchazoita shortage…hahaha if it was petrol, understandable because its a driver of any country…citizens we put some of these things on ourselves…
    Pane kutenga mafuta e$8 go and REGISTER TO VOTE TODAY…

  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    An ignorant Madara is a national disgrace. Get a copy of the 22 September , 2017 Newsday. Page 8 and read “US committed to assist in Zim economy. The US ambassador,Harry Thomas, not me, is admitting sanctions via the US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control(OFAC) sanctions. Only last year , ZB BANK and Agri Bank were removed from the list. There are many other Zimbabwean companies whose export receipts that are being blocked up to this day. Its not only sanctions on our individual leaders. I guess you dont also know the difference between UN meetings they can attend but being barred from any other meetings. After all if you impose sanctions on a Head of State, that adds to the country risk, thereby militating against Zim FDI. I will not tire on my national duty to educate MDCT stooges of the West on the sanctions issue. Pasi ne mhanduuuuuuuuuuu! Pasi ne zvimbwa sungata led by myopic Tsvangiruza. My revolutionary warning goes to all MDCT sellouts. Nehanda forbid!

    • Madara

      whos a mdc stooge?
      the sanctions are targetted at certain individuals and the companies that they have control over.

  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    The time is 2018 elections when you will be proved to be the foolish MDCT supporter. Few weaknesses by few leaders don`t make political summer for ZANU PF , as you erroneously think. The majority of the people are wiser than few stooges like you . No amount of cheap lies or exaggerations will mislead our resilient electorate against ZANU PF. Majority of observers saw the 2013 elections a free and fair. The same will be the outcome in 2018, to your chagrin. Ignorant Madara like you belong to the political dustbin forever. Amen!

    • Madara

      youve obviously been lied to. i dont support mdc or whatever either. but the current party has failed no matter how you look at it. time for a change.

  • Twimbo!

    When you start talking about shutting down publications that don’t fit into your agenda wakutambira on dangerous ground, government can’t control what people choose to say, haisi North Korea iyi.

  • musayigwa

    When pundits like Mzvinavhu “Prof” are going overdrive, then you know there is a ridiculous piece of propaganda that needs to be pushed.

  • pond note

    The biggest falsehood being peddled is that 1 bond note made out out of thin air is equal to the mighty real US Dollar!!!

  • takunda mazano

    did anyone conduct a survey to establish between resistance by shoppers and lack of both plastic,mobile and hard cash to fund panic buying.actually i believe cash cartels bought the inflated goods speculatively coz they were armed to rip off

  • Madara

    good point. if all they do is blame sanctions for all the problems they are just admitting that they wont be able to change things no matter what. so no point in voting for them