The government of Zimbabwe has ordered the introduction of price controls on basic commodities citing the fact that prices skyrocketed since President Mnangagwa announced locked down measures to fight the spread of the deadly corona virus. A new price moratorium was announced through a press statement by the Chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on COVID-19, Vice President Mohadi.
The press statement outlines why the government arrived at such decision. The Statement was issued on 22nd of April and reads;
“Zimbabwe has been experiencing escalating food prices which is increasingly making it difficult for the consumer to afford basic commodities.
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce in partnership with the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe has been continuously monitoring the food basket cost. When His Excellency, the President E.D Mnangagwa announced the lockdown, prices skyrocketed generating increasing difficulties for the general public to access food items such as bread, sugar, cooking oil, mealie meal and flour. In a survey done by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the value of the consumer basket as at 7 February 2020 was ZWL$4 656.00 but by 11 April 2020 the same amounted to ZWL$6 660.84.
In order to address this challenge of escalating prices, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce held a multi-sectoral meeting with various key stakeholders which included Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe of Zimbabwe, Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers Association, National Bakers Association of Zimbabwe, Oil Expressors Association of Zimbabwe, Natiol Foods and Zimbabwe Sugar Sales among others.
There was a general agreement amongst the multi-sectoral partners that the price increase, particurlaly during the lockdown, was speculative and unjustified. The multi-sectoral stakeholders committed to a price moratorium to operate based on the prices which were applicable on the 25th of March (2020). The moratorium will also apply to all value chain players. This supported by a Cabinet Decision of the 21st of April 2020 and will take effect immediately.”