Zimbabwe: Government to Monitor Prices, Availability of Basic Commodities

30 March 2020

Government and the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe will monitor prices and availability of basic commodities during the 21-day lockdown period that starts today to protect ordinary people from unjust business practices.

Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza said in a statement yesterday that there would be a taskforce to monitor price movements and the availability of goods.

"The Ministry of Industry and Commerce in conjunction with the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe will constitute a taskforce to monitor the price movements and availability of essential goods in addition to other consumer protection mechanisms during this period," said Dr Nzenza.

"The primary objective remains that of protecting the lives of the employees in these industries by adhering to the strictest occupational health and safety measures under the circumstances."

She released a list of essential industries and service providers that would remain operational during the 21-day period and urged them to adhere to strict occupational health and safety standards.

Essential service providers and producers that have been exempted from the lockdown include those in electricity distribution, water supply, sewerage and sanitation, supply of fuel, LP gas and other industrial gases, ICT -- data centres, basic telecoms, fibre optic infrastructure, towers and antennae.

The exemption also includes providers of communication services, ICT support services for critical industries and for the banking sector.

Dr Nzenza said manufacturers and producers of products and services supporting the health sector should remain open.

These include manufacturing and distribution of health related products, supplies, devices, equipment and medicines, as well as essential inputs thereto; agricultural and food supply related operations, including farming, veterinary and phytosanitary service providers, pest control services, chemical and fertiliser production and distribution; food, beverages, poultry and dairy products, including manufacturing, processing and distribution facilities for the value chain; manufacturing and importation of basic commodities; manufacturing, processing and distribution of sanitisation products, including soaps, detergents, disinfectants and sanitisers.

Others are those involved in the production and distribution of sanitary products, including sanitary pads, cotton wool, tissues; warehousing, transport and logistics for food and essential products, and health related goods; production of packaging products that are critical in the movement and distribution of the above goods; food outlets -- retail and wholesale shops for food and essential products.

All activities for exporters of manufactured goods and horticultural produce and funeral parlours and support services will also remain open.

"The following services are required to continue operations; all healthcare related services be they public or private; professional and artisan services, to the extent that they are providing support in the Covid-19 response, essential and critical business continuity services; cleaning, laundry and hospitality services supporting the Covid-19 response; hotels, airlines, stadiums, car rental services, to the extent that they are supporting the Covid-19 response; financial and insurance services and health funders required to finance and support essential and critical business continuity services in the Covid-19 response, and provide short-term bridging finance to people and businesses during this period; communication and media services on screen, TV, radio, print, broadcast and online; safety and security services protecting people and property," Dr Nzenza said.

She said her ministry would be working closely with key stakeholders to ensure that critical goods and services were rendered during this period

Businesses which will be operating during this period are encouraged to put in place workplace prevention and early detection protocols to protect the employees and to mitigate the effects of the virus.

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