Victoria Ruzvidzo In Focus
Zimbabwe needs to adopt measures that deal with the demand side of products and services in short supply to reduce pressure in the economy that has tended to compound an already precarious situation.
While fuel and a few other commodities have largely been in short supply, as Zimbabweans we need to change our consumption patterns and adjust to current dictates until the situation eases.
Hoarding and other acts of greediness and sabotage do not help the situation at all as demonstrated thus far.
Queues for fuel and other basics are not exactly a pleasant sight. Besides they tend to waste a lot of productive time. For instance, an employee who has to spend five hours in a diesel queue does so at the expense of his work.
We also have instances where some sneak out of offices to queue for cooking oil, sugar, flour, bread and other such goods. A lot of man hours have been lost and firms have felt the immediate cost of this while in the medium term output levels evidently decline. The hidden economic and social costs of queues are quite gory.
Of course, consumer behaviour in such instances is a result of the shortages and fears that if they don’t grab as much as they can at that point, they may have to go without in future, causing the panic. Those with a high “entrepreneurial spirit” also begin to hoard so that they can make a killing once the product disappears from the shelves.
All this is a situation largely caused by circumstances. But one in which the very consumers can control so that the economy does not suffer further.
The shortage of foreign currency, for instance, has given rise to the parallel market and this market has hurt the economy greatly. The pressure being experienced at the central bank for the few dollars has seen officials crack heads as to what to prioritise and what to put in abeyance in the interim. Some demands may even have to be ignored completely.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya has confessed that the bank is inundated with overwhelming demands for foreign currency at a time available funds are nowhere near enough to meet this level of demand.
Therefore, it is critical that demand side measures are put in place to control the appetite and allocation of the goods and services that are in short supply.
Zimbabwe earns about $6 billion from exports annually and experts say this would be enough to meet our major imports but greediness has resulted in higher demand. In this environment, luxuries such as imported hair, wines, cheese, etc, have to be minimised if not completely suspended until we have enough foreign currency.
We applaud the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube, for increasing duty on such luxuries but he can do more to make it almost impossible to import some of the things.
In God I Trust!