Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
Government will look into the artificial shortage of some basic goods and arbitrary price hikes by some shops and dealers, with a view to taking corrective measures, the President has said.
Addressing thousands of Zanu-PF supporters at Harare International Airport on his return from the 72nd Ordinary Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, President Mugabe said he was aware of saboteurs who wanted to incite people to revolt against the Government ahead of next year’s harmonised elections by way of creating artificial shortages of basic goods.
Some of the people behind the shortages, President Mugabe said, might be from the ruling Zanu-PF.
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“Takanzwawo kuti zvinhu zvashota,” he said to wild applause from the crowd.
“Tinova neruzivo rwekuti pane vanenge vachida kuti zvinhu zvikanganisike, vanhu vomukira hurumende, isu tisipo. Asi vanhu vedu vakachenjera, havanyengerwi nemutowo iwoyo. Mapepa (cash) iwayo totadza kumawana kana ingava fuel yedzimota igonzi yashota?
“Ndauyaka, tichazvitarisa. Angave mashortages anganzi angatadzwa kugadziriswa in one day or two? Musanyanye kuchema henyu, kunoita ny’any’a pakati pedu, ndozvazvinoita. Tochenjera. Dzimwe nguva ndevaunonwa navo vanoda kuti zvinhu zvishate, asi tomira tese takabatana, tese tiri mugwara, tochiteerera gwara ratinokutungamirirai.
“Tinotenda, tirambe takadaro, takabatana kusvika iye zvino pamutambo wedu wemaelections toda kusvika ikoko tichiratidza kuti takabatana. Mashortages aya tinomaongorora, tichazvipedza zvese,” President Mugabe said.
Panic buying begun on Saturday morning following claims on social media on alleged impending shortages of basic commodities.
Some of the messages projected a gloomy economic situation in the country, with some tabloids claiming that the economic challenges of 2008 had returned.
On Sunday, general dealers in Glen View, Harare, and parts of Chitungwiza were reportedly selling 2-litre bottles of cooking oil for 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.
A snap survey by The Herald in Harare on Sunday showed that 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 was neither accepting swipe nor 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.
Long queues were observed at filling stations like Total and Puma where they were accepting all forms of payment.
Smaller dealers were demanding cash 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.