It’s a bleak Christmas!

Source: It’s a bleak Christmas! – DailyNews Live

Fungi Kwaramba      24 December 2018

HARARE – Local beers and soft drinks are among some of the products that
have disappeared from supermarkets’ shelves thereby depriving embattled
Zimbabweans of the things they had become accustomed to during the festive

A survey by the Daily News over the weekend revealed that most retail
outlets have run out of local beer brands and soft drinks, particularly
those manufactured by the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Delta

Where one finds local beverages, the cost would have gone up from the
recommended retail price.

In most shops, shelves are filled to the brim by imported substitutes that
cost an arm and leg.

Some of the imported beers are actually being sold in foreign currency as
confirmed the Zimbabwe Retailers Association (ZRA) yesterday.

Several other basic products, among them the standard loaf of bread, are
also hard to come-by.

Government confirmed the shortages yesterday but said it is determined to
bring cheer to long-suffering Zimbabweans.

Nick Mangwana, the permanent secretary in the ministry of Information,
Publicity and Broadcasting Services, told the Daily News yesterday that
government – through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) – has disbursed
foreign currency to the beverage companies and is in the process of
releasing more hard currency for the procurement of their inputs.

“There have been shortages of some beverages and some will still
experience these shortages over Christmas but government is doing its best
to support industry and bring the much-needed merriment to Zimbabweans,”
he said.

Going forward, Mangwana said the ministry of Industry and Commerce will
continue to engage with industry players and the central bank to find
long-term solutions to the economic crisis.

“There is also a need to address the cause of Zimbabwean products being
off Zimbabwean shelves but found in abundance in our neighbouring
countries,” he said.

ZRA president Denford Mutashu told the Daily News yesterday that retailers
were failing to access some of the local products from suppliers who are
struggling to get foreign currency allocations from the RBZ.

“There is a short supply on the part of the suppliers. We often expect
supplies to increase around the festive season: You should understand that
this has been an ongoing thing, but because of the festive season the
demand has actually trebled and that has not been matched by supply.

“Most of the beverage companies are faced with shortages of foreign
currency. Usually there is a preparatory period of up to three months
before the festive season but that has not been the case this time around.
Of course we have engaged government on this and other issues as
retailers,” said Mutashu.

The ZRA president said those importing beers have no choice but to charge
in United States dollars.

For the first time since the 2007/8 economic implosion, Zimbabweans are
set to celebrate a dry Christmas – stripped of all the essentials that
used to make the day the most celebrated on the country’s calendar.

Also dampening the merrymaking is the pricing madness being fuelled by the
shortage of foreign currency on the official market, resulting in prices
of basics shooting through the roof.

Those who were steeped in the tradition of trekking down to their
ancestral homes for a Merry Christmas have to confront long fuel queues
due to fuel shortages that have seen motorists sleeping in queues waiting
for the product.

Bus fares have also skyrocketed.

For instance, a trip to Rusape, which is about 170 kilometres from Harare
is now $15 – a massive jump from the $6 around this time last year.