Mukudzei Chingwere and Kudzai Muhamba
Business is ready for brisk Christmas spending, promising not to increase prices during the festive period as well as adhering strictly to the Covid-19 containment measures.
In separate interviews, bus operators, wholesalers and retailers, as well as millers said the major surge in festive spending has not yet started but expressed readiness to service the market fairly.
A leading player in the public transport system Dr Leonard Mukumba, director at Mukumba Brothers popularly known as Inter Africa buses, a prominent bus company in the country, said they will not hike prices.
“The period is usually characterised by huge volumes of people travelling, and we have serviced all our buses used during this period to be in perfect condition for the busy period.
“As for prices we will not hike fares, we will stick to the fare table. We also urge everyone travelling to adhere to the Covid-19 regulations so that we avoid a spike in infections during this period.
“We urge other road users to be responsible on the roads. As for us we will play our part. We do not want a situation where the festive season is always associated with accidents,” said Dr Mukumba.
He urged those yet to be vaccinated to take advantage of the national vaccination programme and get jabbed
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Mr Denford Mutashu applauded suppliers and manufacturers for ensuring the supply chains remain intact.
“Usually the holiday spending starts around the 21st, and for us we are ready to meet the demand of the high spending when people start buying for the festivities. Manufactures and suppliers are ready for the demand as well so that there will be no shortages and no price increases during this period,” said Mr Mutashu.
“Government has done a lot of work towards improving the income of civil servants through the bonuses. Of course a lot of people have come through and asked what our response is to the bonuses for the civil servants.
“We would like to commit and obligate ourselves that we will not increase prices as Christmas comes. We are working very closely with our suppliers to ensure that the glitches we have experienced in the past, for example issues to do with product procurement, are dealt with,” said Mr Mutashu
“So supply should not be interrupted and prices should remain stable.”
Government is on record that the auctions govern the cost of foreign currency used for productive purposes and other inflationary pressures are receding.
However, there have been accusations that some businesses create artificial shortages especially during the Christmas festivities to justify price hikes but this is more likely to be a conspiracy theory.
Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe national chairman Mr Tafadzwa Musarara said his members are adequately prepared to supply the market this festive season.
“We are pleased to inform our consuming public that there are more than enough supplies of maize meal, bread, flour, self-rising flour, rice, salt, sugar beans and stock-feeds. We urge consumers to buy as much as they want but avoid panic-buying,” said Mr Musarara.
He said they are grateful to the Government “for their excellent and collaborative work with the private sector in turning around the agricultural fortunes of the country and regaining national food self-sufficiency”.
“We thank the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for their wise leadership in structuring and providing all requisite support towards revamping of local grain production. We remain indebted to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for the continued foreign currency payment support for our critical imports,” said Mr Musarara.
GMAZ is the apex representative body of 114 millers nationwide, milling maize and wheat, pre-packing of salt, sugar bean, rice, popcorn and manufacture of stock-feed.
Ordinary citizens such as Mr Brighton Nyamande said: “We have started shopping for Christmas. We have bought a number of things for our Christmas holiday. The prices are affordable and we are enjoying the holiday.
“It’s just unfortunate that some of the items we have to look at come from various places but basically we get most of the things from our supermarkets and we are more than happy we are getting everything we need. We are celebrating our Christmas in Murehwa.”
Ms Chaita Dhliwayo: “We are in a challenging time. The money that we are earning is not enough, so we just buying this and that so that for the kids the Christmas won’t go unnoticed although these days Christmas is no longer the same from back then.”
Mr Pfugamai Marembo said: “The prices are high but looking at the special groceries and that we are buying and the fact that it’s now festive season, the prices are justified. We have bought enough groceries for my family to enjoy Christmas. We will be celebrating our Christmas here in Harare then we go to rural areas for the New Year.”
Ms Chiedza Chitongo said: “This year was busy year. I am happy this is moment we unwind. We enjoy these groceries we are buying the prices are not bad. We will be celebrating g our Christmas in Harare since going to the rural areas needs money we do not have right now.”ac