Nqobile Tshili/Thandeka Moyo/Kudzai Chikiwa, Chronicle Reporters
Manufacturers yesterday exposed retailers for duping customers by inflating prices despite procuring products from them at unchanged prices.
Yesterday, products such as a 2 litre bottle of cooking oil were being sold for $10 from nearly $4 with some shops limiting quantities that members of the public could buy.
Commodities such as a 2kg of rice went up from an average of $3 to $6. Many hardware shops took delivery of cement yesterday after running dry for most of last week but were strictly selling it at US$10 per 50kg bag or its equivalent in rand.
Some furniture shops have also increased prices by more than 50 percent.
The Chronicle noted that most local food outlets hiked their prices for meals and drinks with fresh chips going for $1.50 from $1. Locally produced Pepsi soft drinks also went up from $0.50 to $1 for a 500ml bottle.
Cooking oil manufacturers slammed retailers for hoarding goods and hiking prices at the expense of consumers.
In a statement yesterday, Pure Drop Refined Soyabean Oil which supplies cooking oil said retailers were bent on profiteering.
“It has come to our attention that our cooking oil brand Pure Drop is being sold in some retail outlets at prices above the recommended retail price of $3.70.
Please be advised that our price for cooking oil has not changed and the current shortages are being worsened by speculators bent on profiteering,’’ read the statement.
United Refineries Limited chief executive officer Mr Busisa Moyo posting on Twitter said for Roil cooking oil the “recommended price is $3.99 straight.”
He said the price did not matter whether one was paying using “swipe, EcoCash or RTGS.”
A snap survey by The Chronicle showed that most big supermarkets in Bulawayo like Choppies and OK did not have cooking oil in stock.
Some customers who spoke to the news crew even came up with theories that shops had removed stocks to create an artificial shortage to increase their prices.
“I came here looking for cooking oil but I was told that the product is in short supply. When l came back in the afternoon l saw a man with a box of cooking.
I asked the manager what’s happening but he ignored me,” said Mr Nothiwani Dhlamini who was shopping at a local supermarket (name supplied).
“There is cooking oil but these people are hoarding it and selling privately to their relatives and friends. This type of corruption must stop because the ordinary citizen is hugely affected.”
Oceans Supermarket was only accepting cash and EcoCash as modes of payment with bank cards not being accepted.
Pharmacies in the city have also increased their prices while some critical drugs were in short supply leaving scores of patients on chronic medication stranded.
Chronic diseases include hypertension, asthma, diabetes and cancer.
Hypertensive and diabetes patients are the worst affected and are now relying on smuggled medication as the few pharmacies that have the drugs have hiked prices and are demanding forex.
An affected hypertensive patient, Ms Olivia Ncube said a month supply of Nifedipine which normally costs $5 is now being sold at $15.
“I started with my trusted pharmacies and to my surprise there was nothing. I had to contact a doctor friend of mine who linked me with a supplier who is smuggling medicine from South Africa. I can only hope that it is not expired drugs that have been exposed to a lot of heat,” she said.
Ibuprofen the most common over the counter pain killer went up to $5 for 10 tablets from $1.
There was also an outcry over the emergency pill known as the morning after whose price shot up from $5 to $10. Diabetes patients also got the shock of their lives as the medication which normally costs $5 shot up to $17. Pharmaceutical Society of Zimbabwe president Mr Portifa Mwendera said they were low on stocks due to forex challenges.
“We are very low on stocks even those that are available cannot last us a month. Healthcare is compromised and it means some are going without medication and condition getting worse,” he said.
Community Working Group on Health’s Mr Itai Rusike expressed fears the price hike madness on medication was going to open the way for growth of private unregulated drug markets. — @nqotshili/@thamamoe/[email protected]