The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe has raised concerns over incessant basic commodity price hikes which have seen the low income monthly food basket, for a family of six shoot to over $1 500 from $971 between August and September.
In a statement yesterday, the consumer protection watchdog accused some businesses of unethical profiteering and called for immediate engagement between social partners — Government, Business and Labour — to address the situation.
President Mnangagwa has already pledged to meet business to find a solution to the price madness.
“CCZ conducts periodic price surveys of basic commodities on the market and more so, during this period where there has been a public outcry on increases of basic commodities,” reads the statement.
“CCZ is concerned about how consumers or households can survive under such harsh economic conditions, also considering how much spending capacity they have.
“It is common knowledge that wages and salaries in Zimbabwe are not in sync with hyper inflationary price increases and this has created opportunities for business to profiteer.”
The prices of goods and services, according to CCZ, are now beyond the reach of most consumers.
“The many stakeholder workshops between Government, Business (producers and manufacturers) seem to have not yielded anything to lift the burden off the long suffering consumers.
“The price research done by CCZ over a period of one week, between 26 September and 3 October 2019, shows unbridled price increases that are shocking,” notes the consumer watchdog.
A price schedule accompanying the statement shows that a two litre bottle of cooking oil which cost $34,50 on September 26, was retailing at $57,15 last Tuesday, while the price of a 20kg of roller meal shot up from $66,50 to $105,98 during the same period.
The price of a 2kg packet of rice increased from $37,39 to $54,99 while a kilogramme of economy beef now costs $69,90 up from $58,90.
A 2kg pack of sugar which was retailing at $25,50 during the last week of September was going for $30,50 a week later while a 500g pack of washing powder rose to $27,99 from $20,66.
The CCZ Low Income Food Basket index for the month of August was $971,45 before shooting to $1 510,27 at the end of last month signifying an increase of 55,46 percent, stated CCZ
In an address to the nation on the eve of his trip to New York for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last month, the President said Government was concerned over the increase in prices of basic products.
“Soon, I shall be calling for a meeting with the business community so we agree on clear ground rules which ensure fair play in the market,” he said.
“It is not the intention of Government to interfere with the operation of business.
“However, where clear failures become evident and rampant in the market, the hand of Government will inevitably show,” he also said.