Ray Bande, Harare Bureau
GOVERNMENT has set aside $70 million for provision of people’s shops in a move aimed at curtailing wanton increases in prices of basic commodities, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa has said.
Addressing Zanu-PF Manicaland’s Provincial Coordinating Committee meeting yesterday, she castigated unjustified price increases by companies such as the giant sugar producer – Tongaat Hulett.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Government is already in the process of sourcing more funds to speed up the establishment of people’s shops across the country.
“We are fully aware of acts of economic sabotage that are going on which however do not come as a surprise because some elements in the political arena openly declared that they would spoil the broth.
“We are wondering what is really happening in the country that justifies a 100 percent increase in prices of basics within a week. It is clear sabotage. What is Tongaat Hulett importing in its production of sugar that justifies the current prices? What currency are they using in paying their workers that warrants these increases?
“We will soon see the introduction of people’s shops in all corners of the countries from cities, towns to villages. Silo products will be sold at affordable prices in these shops. As Government, we have already set aside $70 million to fund the provision of people’s shops and more funds are already being sourced to ensure that we compete at the same level with these unscrupulous elements in business,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the people’s shops would be wholly owned by Government.
“We are aware that there are people who want to prove that Zanu-PF has failed through unjustified price increases in supermarkets. However, the people’s shops will be 100 percent owned by Government operating on a non-profit basis so that our people can afford.
“This is meant to deal with triple price mark ups that we are witnessing in this country. Rice, mealie-meal, sugar, stock feeds, school uniforms, detergents and other basics will be sold in these shops. Government will soon find partners to see to it that this idea comes to fruition,” she said.
Speaking during the same event, ruling Zanu-PF Manicaland chairman Cde Mike Madiro, who is also Home Affairs Deputy Minister, said the idea to have people’s shops was a better option than implementing price controls.
“We have gone the price controls way before and we all know the consequences. We have learnt from our past. The idea to have people’s shops was a better option for Government than implementing price controls.
“In fact, this is supply side management by Government and it is meant to give competition to those increasing prices unjustifiably. As a political party these are the things that we are supposed to explain to our membership and citizens in general,” said Cde Madiro.