Addressing the media, Mohadi, who is also the chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on Covid-19 response, said Zimbabwe has been experiencing escalating food prices which are increasingly making it difficult for consumers to afford basic commodities.
He said that since the announcement of the national lockdown meant to curb the spread of Covid-19 last month, the price increases on basic commodities had been ‘speculative and unjustified’.
“When His Excellency , the President Emmerson 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 Z$4 656 but by 11 April 2020 the same amounted to ZWL$6 660.84,” he said.
The moratorium on prices, said Mohadi, was a result of dialogue between government and various stakeholders.
“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, Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers Association , National Bakers Association of Zimbabwe, Oil Expressors Association of Zimbabwe, National Foods and Zimbabwe Sugar Sales among others.
“There was a general agreement amongst the multi-sectoral partners that the price increase, particularly 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. The moratorium will also apply to all value chain players,” said Mohadi.
He added: “This was supported by a Cabinet decision of the 21st of April 2020 and will take effect immediately”.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers Association president Denford Mutashu said his sector would comply.
“We will also ensure that as retailers we will comply and implement the moratorium on prices to ensure that citizens do not starve. It is our wish to work with suppliers to ensure continuous supply of commodities,” he said.
A representative of the Oil Expressors Ron Musiiwa said players committed to ensure that implementation of the moratorium would be smooth.
Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe chairman Tafadzwa Musarara blamed speculative tendencies for the recent wave of price increases.
“This is an agreement that has come through dialogue. On behalf of millers, we want to say that this is a collective decision reached by both government and the private sector,” he said.
A member of the Bakers Association said there would be no shortages of their products.
Consumer Protection Council of Zimbabwe official said shortages of some commodities should be anticipated.
“There are price ceilings that need to be interrogated so that there will not be any supply bottlenecks,” he said.
Industry and Commerce Minister Sekai Nzenza said government was still working on a stimulus package for manufacturing industries affected by Covid-19.
“We are looking into the matter. We are now tasked with our response to Covid-19,” she said.-New Ziana