Mnangagwa fumes over price increases

 Mnangagwa fumes over price increases
Published: 14 August 2019 (131 Views)
IN A move which observers said betrays government's growing anxiety over the country's worsening economic rot, President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday warned business anew over wanton price increases - while urging desperate Zimbabweans to shun violence.

This comes as both long-suffering citizens and businesses have blamed the government's new policies, and especially Finance minister Mthuli Ncube's Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), for aggravating the chaos that now characterises the local economy.

Apart from a fresh round of price increases which was effected by supermarkets during the long Heroes and Defence Forces holidays, many private schools have also announced sharp hikes in their fees - piling on the pressure on hard-pressed Zimbabweans, especially those earning their salaries in the local currency which has been seriously eroded by the country's galloping inflation.

Addressing thousands of Zimbabweans who gathered at the National Sports Stadium in Harare yesterday, to mark this year's Defence Forces Day, Mnangagwa once again tore into business - slamming the skyrocketing prices of basic goods and service in the country.

"There is, however, some in our business community, who have taken this difficult transitional phase of our economy as an opportunity to unjustifiably enrich themselves.

"There is no justification, whatsoever, why our people should be subjected to some of the high prices of goods and services that we have witnessed in recent months," he warned.

The under-pressure Zanu-PF leader first warned business against price hikes on Independence Day in April when he said their practices showed that they were "inhuman".

"The introduction of a market-based foreign exchange rate system is expected to stabilise the economy in the long run.

"However, government is alarmed by the recent wanton and indiscriminate increases of prices which have brought untold suffering to the people.

"This conduct by stakeholders in business, industry and commerce is inhumane, unethical, unpatriotic and goes against the grain of economic dialogue which the Second Republic has espoused," an angry Mnangagwa told crowds who had also gathered at the National Sports Stadium then.

In June, Mnangagwa once again warned businesses against price hikes which he also said were unjustified — days after his government had scrapped the multiple currency system, which had been hailed for stabilising the economy for a decade, when it was introduced after the collapse of the Zimbabwe dollar.

"Kana kuna vaya vaya ana muzvina bhizinisi vari kuramba vakakwidza mitengo, aiwa varegei vakadaro. Pindai muma shop evadzikisa mitengo, anenge achidhurisa kwete. Tiri kuvarongera. Yavo shamhu iri kugadzirwa zvakanaka naka, yaiswa pamushana … mumvura mune munyu (If there are businesses that are still charging high prices, ignore them and buy from shops that have lowered their prices. We have a plan for those that are charging these high prices ... we are putting in place measures that will see those businesses being punished accordingly)," Mnangagwa said.

Zimbabwe is currently going through its worst economic crisis in a decade, as the country battles hyper-inflation, shortages of fuel, critical medicines, power, fuel and water — among a myriad other challenges.

Mnangagwa's government has been criticised for being the author of more economic problems for the country through the deeply unpopular TSP.

Under the programme, Ncube has introduced a raft of new measures and higher statutory taxes which have led to widespread anger and an air of hopelessness among overwhelmed ordinary citizens and depressed businesses. The austerity measures have also escalated the country's drift towards an economic cul-de-sac.

In addition, and despite blowing billions of dollars on the controversial Command Agriculture programme, Mnangagwa and the government face another huge task of trying to avert starvation in the country — as nearly six million people are in need of urgent food aid.

As a result, Zimbabwe is currently embarking on its largest importation of maize in three years, after most of the funds allocated to Command Agriculture — to boost food security in the country — are said to have been looted by politically-connected service providers.

Speaking on Monday during Heroes Day commemorations, Mnangagwa pleaded with Zimbabweans for more patience, as his government battles to turn around the country's tanking economy.

"To desire quick fix manoeuvres and neglect fundamentals will be grossly dishonest and a betrayal to the future prospects of our children.

"I thus wish to thank all our people for their resilience and to further urge them to bear with us as we complete this crucial phase of our policy reforms.

"The national economic prosperity and progress we seek requires dedicated effort, hard work and unflinching loyalty and patriotism one generation after another," Mnangagwa said.

"Allow me on that note to express my profound gratitude to all Zimbabweans for their patience and resilience, often against incredible odds, during this reform process," he added.

Mnangagwa, who swept to power amid much hope among the generality of the country's citizens — who had endured nearly four decades of hell under former president Robert Mugabe's ruinous rule — has been battling to re-build the moribund economy.

But the tough task of rebuilding Zimbabwe's shattered economy and lifting the quality of life of its long suffering people, has so far proven to be a tad too onerous for him and his misfiring Cabinet team.

- dailynews

Tags: Mnangagwa,
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