Gloomy Xmas…rising prices, costs dampen spirits

Source: Gloomy Xmas…rising prices, costs dampen spirits – NewsDay Zimbabwe

ZIMBABWEANS face yet another gloomy Christmas following a spike in the prices of basic goods at the onset of the festive season, made worse by a weakening local currency.

The currency has been on a free-fall, forcing retailers to peg their prices on the black-market rate.

To pile more misery, citizens who intended to travel for the holidays, were left stranded yesterday after bus operators at Mbare Musika terminus hiked bus fares.

In separate interviews conducted by NewsDay, travellers bemoaned that bus operators had hiked prices, forcing them to reconsider their festive season plans.

“I was supposed to go to Chiredzi, but they are telling me that it is now US$25 per person. I have my wife and my kid here which means I now have to pay US$75. That is just too much, we will have to reconsider going,” Tinashe Magoni, a Budiriro resident said.

Tafadzwa Mjumi, who was hoping to travel to Mutare, said: “When I say we don’t have money, I think I speak for the majority. Things are just difficult in Zimbabwe.

“Celebrating Christmas used to be easy as people had money, but now it has become practically impossible. This is the worst Christmas in the history of Zimbabwe.”

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe said: “Civil servants are about to have the worst Christmas since 2008, and if salaries are not adjusted in January, it will be hell on earth.”

The ever-widening mismatch between parallel and official exchange rates has wiped out the purchasing power of the local currency.

Prices of basic commodities have skyrocketed this festive season.

The price of bread, which was $143 a month ago is now $170. A two-litre bottle of cooking oil has jumped from $500 to $700 while a crate of eggs has gone up to around $1 000 from $700. A 10kg bag of mealie-meal now cost $659 from $540.

National Consumer Rights Association spokesperson, Effie Ncube told NewsDay that the increase in prices for basic commodities had dampened the festive mood for many.

“Let us not forget that poverty and hunger have been deepening over the past two decades in particular and there has been no respite particularly around the issue of incomes and, therefore, any price hike means that it will eat away the disposable incomes of very poor people,” Ncube said.

“So, the merry Christmas will be for a few people who have larger disposable incomes. For the rest of the people that is going to be taken away by the price hikes so it is going to be a very difficult Christmas.

“There won’t be any Christmas at all besides people just going to church and worshipping. In terms of the usual marrying, eating, partying that would be restricted to a few people who are earning decent salaries and a few who are corrupt of course that are in the ruling party and government.”