Prosper Ndlovu/Kiyapili Sibanda, Business Reporters
CONSUMERS have expressed dismay over the continuous increase in the prices of basic commodities, which they say could dampen the festive mood.
A snap survey conducted by Business Chronicle yesterday revealed that meat and meat product prices in Bulawayo, for instance, have increased by more than 100 percent, sparking outrage among consumers. A kilogramme of beef now costs between $8 to $10 from between $4 to $5.
Prices for petroleum jellies and body creams, tissue paper, soups, cooking oil, processed meats, soap, washing powder, beverages, mayonnaise and rice have increased too.
Butchery and supermarket operators acknowledged that the prices increased recently.
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) executive director Ms Rosemary Siyachitema said this year’s festive season is likely to be difficult for consumers.
“I’m not sure about the 100 percent increase in prices of meat but what we have noticed is that there is a continuous increase of prices of commodities. Quite frankly by the look of things it will be not a good Christmas because consumers have to spend more,” she said in an interview.
“I encourage consumers to buy in bulk for example buying the whole beast and sharing because just imagine a price of economy beef cost $8 this will dampen the hopes of consumers.”
Economic analyst Mr Nkululeko Mpofu said speculative tendencies were fuelling price hikes, which have pushed inflation up from 0.4 percent early this year to 2.4 percent currently. This comes at a time when the country is facing acute cash shortages evidenced by persistent long bank queues.
In his 2018 National Budget Statement, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Patrick Chinamasa projected that inflation could rise to around four to five percent.
Economic experts say price hikes are closely connected with the loss of value for money, evidenced by emergency of a three-tier pricing system, which is a product of a blossoming foreign exchange premiums on the parallel market. The trend is also linked to the growing mismatch between electronic or RTGS bank balances and real cash in the economy.
Ms Siyachitema also said it was worrying that prices of substitutes like kapenta have also risen.
A consumer, Mr Ayanda Khumalo, said: “I am not happy about the increase of [prices of] meat products. This festive season means that people will have to pay more and this is not good in the current situation. Everything has to be on normal price not this madness we are seeing”.