Consumers have appealed to Government to intervene and rein in retailers as most basic commodities are now beyond the reach of many consumers because businesses are constantly increasing the prices as they chase the black-market rates.
The price hike madness is causing untold consumer suffering as many people can no longer afford the basic commodities. What has worsened the situation is that salaries of most workers have remained stagnant yet prices of basic commodities are being increased daily.
The volatile parallel market exchange rate is causing havoc in the marketplace and there is therefore urgent need for Government to take drastic measures to stabilise the situation.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has maintained that the widening of the mismatch between the official exchange rate and the black-market rate is not due to weak fundamentals but black-market activities and it seems the situation is getting worse with each passing day.
Many businesses are now pegging prices based on the black market rates thereby subjecting consumers to extortionate price hikes. In a bid to control the black market activities, the RBZ last year banned 30 black market currency dealers from operating any bank or mobile money accounts for two years.
What is clear is that the economic problems we are facing which is causing the suffering of ordinary people is as a result of our own making. There is therefore, a need for discipline in the market place.
The consumers have called on the Government to introduce price controls saying there are no indications that things will change for the better. Government has been reluctant to introduce price controls but given the obtaining situation on the ground, there is a need to engage business and come up with a strong commitment to ethical business conduct.
This should not be a time of profiteering at the expense of the suffering consumers. Business and consumers should share the burden of the geopolitical developments in Europe that has seen prices of wheat, cooking oil, gas and fuel increasing.
The obtaining situation whereby any price increase on the international market is passed on to the consumer is grossly unfair. Government should act to ensure basic commodities remain affordable to the majority of consumers who cannot do without these commodities.
Introducing price controls might be too drastic hence our call for Government to engage business in order to come up with a legally binding commitment to ethical business conduct that shuns profiteering at the expense of the consumer.
Business and consumers need each other and have to work together to cross the Rubicon.