Zimbabwe: Large Retailers Inflate Prices

Some large retailers are reportedly abusing the privilege of being among the few essential service providers that were allowed to operate during the lockdown period, aimed at curtailing the spread of Covid-19, to wantonly increase prices of goods at a time the majority are incapacitated.

Government has decreed a 21-day lockdown from March 30, as Zimbabwe joins other nations in the fight to contain the Covid 19 pandemic, which has killed over 50 000 people and infected more than 900 000 others across the world.

This comes as there has been confusion over guidelines relating to operation of some smaller retailers, the majority of whom have been running intermittently or have remained largely closed, creating pressure on and huge gatherings at large retail chains as people queue to buy essential goods.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) president Denford Mutashu said the association was concerned over the devious conduct of some of the retailers and warned action would be taken against culprits through the relevant authorities.

"What we have noted is that some sector players are taking advantage of the situation to wantonly increase prices. We have given each other enough warnings but to no avail and we are certainly going to take some action," he said.

Mr Mutashu said the agreement had been for a freeze on price increases during the period of the lockdown in light of the stagnation in incomes as most companies have closed and people are unable to work.

Unrestrained increases in prices could further constrain food security and access to basic commodities by many people during the emergency period announced by President Mnangagwa last week.

This also comes as the global pandemic has disrupted domestic and international production as well as the efficiency of supply chains and related logistical operations.

Mr Mutashu would, however, not confirm indications that CZR and other sector associations were set to meet President Mnangagwa yesterday to discuss issues around pricing and the role of business in the fight against Covid-19.

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