Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
GOVERNMENT intervention over the past few months has alleviated what was going to be a bleak Christmas for the generality of Zimbabweans.
A snap survey carried out by The Chronicle in Bulawayo yesterday revealed that long distance bus termini in the city were busy as people caught buses to travel to their rural homes for the Christmas holiday. Transporters have taken advantage of the higher demand for transport by increasing fares.
Mrs Bongani Moyo applauded the Government for subsidising roller meal and Zupco buses.
“Without these subsidies we would have starved this year. We are paying $1 for bus fare instead of $5 charged by kombis. We are also buying 10 kg of mealie meal for about $40 at supermarkets instead of the $100 that we had been paying. I hope the Government will add more subsidies on more goods and services next year,” said Mrs Moyo.
However, other people said the prevailing economic challenges have forced them to cut spending this festive season.
“This is one of the worst festive periods I have witnessed in years. Prices are going up almost daily and, in the process, eroding our incomes. I have decided to stick to basic stuff and forgo some of the luxuries,” said Ms Nothando Ndlovu of Nkulumane suburb in Bulawayo
Mr Nkululeko Ngwenya of Hillside suburb said:
“As you can see my brother, my trolley is almost empty because I cannot afford to fill it like I used to in the previous years during such periods. My income has been eroded by inflation and high prices of goods in shops. I have school fees, uniforms and groceries waiting for me in January, which effectively weakens my buying power. This is a tough year for us and we hope, going forward, the Government will come up with measures to address the economic challenges,” he said.
A shop attendant in one of the gift shops in the city bemoaned a decline in business.
“Normally during this time of the year, we record brisk business, but this time it has been tough and most of the merchandise that we had stocked in anticipation of demand during the run up to Christmas is piled up in the shop. We recorded low business largely because our consumers have no money,” she said.
Unjustified price increases of commodities have been the order of the day since the beginning of the year.
President of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) Mr Denford Mutashu told our Harare Bureau that the retail business had fought the tendency by some to profiteer by ensuring that there were adequate deliveries.
“We have improved the supply of basic commodities and most shops are fully stocked,” he said. “Many players have taken what is on the market to stock their shops so that they do not run out of stock, which has resulted in the stabilisation of prices in most supermarkets.
“We have also noticed that the customers are out and about buying their goods focusing on basic commodities, though they are buying some stuff which is not basic. Clothing retailers have also stabilised their prices and we hope that the price stabilisation will move into the New Year.
“We are also trying to engage uniform retailers to stabilise their prices as we enter into the back-to-school time. We are happy to have noted the same (price stabilisation) is being done in other cities like Bulawayo, Masvingo, Gweru and Mutare, among others. We encourage our retailers to continue stabilising the prices so that the consumers can do their shopping at ease.”
In an effort to cushion its workers, the Government recently paid them bonuses and introduced subsidised roller meal and transportation through Zupco.
Speaking during the Senate in Parliament last week, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said: “We want people to be happy over the festive season and Government will ensure that it does its part. You saw the Government doing its part and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development availing bonuses to civil servants. Prices are being slashed, especially for mealie-meal so that people can get food.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said there was need to avail enough fuel to ensure that people travel safely for the festive season.
Speaking during a symposium to commemorate the United Nations Anti-Corruption Day last week, President Mnangagwa said long queues at the banks will soon disappear as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is expected to release $30 million to increase money supply.
“The issue of failure to get money at banks is because we did not have much money in circulation. However, pensioners used to get $100 per month, but my Government increased that to $800. As we go towards Christmas, the long queues at banks will be disappearing. I called the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya and told him about it and he said they used to issue $10 million to $20 million, but from Tuesday (tomorrow) they will be releasing $30 million to increase money supply,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said RBZ would soon introduce $10 notes and $20 notes. — @mashnets