Lockdown: Rogue business people defy govt order to freeze price hikes on basic commodities

Pic by Lovejoy Mutongwiza

ROGUE retailers and informal traders have defied government order to desist from profiteering, capitalising on the 21-day lockdown announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus(COVID-19).
Since the inception of the lockdown on Monday, the market has seen a massive price hike on basic commodities.

The unjustified hike was triggered by the panic buying exhibited by consumers in a bid to stockpile foodstuff that sustain them in the three-weeks long lockdown.
This is despite government assurance that retail shops and other essential services will be open.
In a snap survey conducted by Zim Morning Post on the third day of the lockdown, most basic commodities’ prices had a drastic increase.
Cooking oil was previously pegged at ZWL 120 or US$ 2.80, but it shot up to US$ 3.50.
Chitungwiza residents lashed out at this ‘capitalist mentality’.
One resident who identified himself as Tafara Musimbe, told the publication that the government must put price controls on basic commodities.
“The government must help us, we are now buying basic commodities at abnormal prices, I bought a 10 kilograms of mealie meal at ZWL 350 which is not normal, “said Musimbe.
However, Industry and Commerce minister Sekai Nzenza has assured that government will crack whip on perpetrators.
She said a taskforce to monitor the prices of basic commodities has been put in place in these trying times.
A Chitungwiza based vendor who identified himself as Liberty Mavanhere justified the hike citing that scarcity creates demand and government must cushion consumers during the lockdown period.

“Our prices are okay and will keep on increasing until the government has done something to cushion its citizens who are suffering,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zimbabweans have complied to the 21-day lockdown and taken heed of Mnangagwa’s call to the stay at home, minimise travelling and practicing social distancing.



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