The Member of Parliament for Mpopoma-Pelandaba constituency in Bulawayo, Cde Joseph Tshuma this week took it upon himself to conduct a mini survey of retail shops in the city following reports of massive price hikes.
Cde Tshuma said the survey confirmed that most retailers had indeed increased prices of basic commodities. He said there was no justification of the price increases because manufacturers had not increased prices.
Cde Tshuma said it was wholesalers and retailers that had increased prices, a confirmation that they were just after profiteering. He said what has worsened the plight of consumers is that some retail outlets are not accepting swipe, EcoCash and telegraphic bank transfers yet Government is encouraging the use of plastic money.
The country is facing a critical shortage of cash and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has said the solution to the cash crisis is for people to embrace the use of plastic money. The shops that are refusing the use of plastic money and demanding cash are therefore going against the grain and must urgently be whipped into line.
What is even more frightening is the fact that some shops are not just demanding cash but are demanding to be paid in United States dollars yet Government adopted the use different currencies in 2009 and also introduced bond notes. The shops that are demanding cash payments are hiding behind shortage of swipe machines but the truth is that most of these shops never applied for the machines.
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries who are the manufacturers of most basic commodities, have said they have not increased prices and as such the increases are not justified. The unscrupulous businesses that are fleecing consumers by charging exorbitant prices, are taking advantage of the fact that no action is being taken against them. These unethical businesses have realised that Government just makes empty threats. It is the consumers that continue to suffer while the retailers and wholesalers make super profits from charging exorbitant prices.
We want to once again appeal to the business community to be sensitive to the plight of consumers most of whom cannot afford basics. It is a fact that most workers have not had a salary increase for years now while others are not receiving regular salaries.
The economic challenges the country is facing demands businesses that uphold business ethics and value their consumers who give them business. It is also time measures are put in place to stop this price hikes madness.