The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and Treasury will soon come up with monetary and fiscal measures to cushion consumers from escalating prices of basic food items, legislators heard yesterday.
President Mnangagwa met Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor John Mangudya on Wednesday to discuss prices of basics, Industry and Commerce Minister Sekai Nzenza said yesterday.
One measure, said Minister Nzenza would be to mark subsidised roller meal, clearly indicating that it was a Government subsidised product, which should be sold at $70 per 10kg to curb profiteering.
Minister Nzenza was giving oral evidence before Parliament’s Portfolio committee on Industry and Commerce chaired by Chimanimani East MP Cde Joshua Sacco (Zanu PF).
Minister Nzenza said the understanding that Government had with manufacturers and retailers to reduce prices to pre-lockdown levels had not worked.
In March, in a meeting with manufacturers and retailers chaired by Vice President Kembo Mohadi, it was agreed that prices should revert to March 25 levels.
“This agreement was done in good faith, based on moral persuasion. What we have noted admittedly is that this moratorium on reduction of prices has not worked. And I want to admit that,” said Minister Nzenza.
She said while some of the reasons for the agreement failing to work were attributed to inadequate foreign exchange to import some raw materials, profiteering mindsets playing a huge role.
“Another point, which I want to emphasise is about the behaviour of retailers and manufacturers that has not been sympathetic to consumers.
“We witnessed speculation, rent seeking behaviour, which has caused inflation. We have seen the parallel market changing on a daily basis.
“That has been very difficult to control.
“We came to a point where it was important for the President to call RBZ Governor and Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube yesterday and it took three-and-a-half hours of discussion. It was to address what was happening in the market and the negative impact on the consumers,” said the Minister.
Minister Nzenza said a subsidy programme for roller meal was being abused by some unscrupulous businesspeople.
On the availability of sugar, legislators called for Government to relook at the monopoly being enjoyed by Chiredzi-based firm Tongaat Hulett, which they described as tantamount to exploiting outgrowers through monopolistic practices.