Reports that businesses have begun to wantonly increase prices of basic commodities make sad reading, as this culture by unscrupulous businesspeople can impact negatively on the country’s well-being — economically, socially and politically.
The complaints by Finance minister Tendai Biti came just days after President Robert Mugabe castigated the mentality of businesses who wanted to get rich as soon as they started a business saying this was not possible.
President Mugabe was speaking at the burial of the late Retired Army General Solomon Mujuru on Saturday last week.
“Zimbabweans are now going for high prices. You want to be rich in one day. Only thieves get rich in one day,” President Mugabe said.
Biti concurred with the President on Wednesday, saying what was worrying was that there were no fundamentals warranting such price hikes but the business community was taking advantage of government’s benevolence .
“We are concerned with the irresponsible manner of some of our businesspeople. These are worrisome developments, which, if not addressed, will reverse the gains made on overall macroeconomic stabilisation,” said Biti.
“I am, therefore, urging local producers to reciprocate government support by refraining from unethical, speculative and rent-seeking activities, but rather take advantage of such dispensation to improve productivity.”
If we are to ask, what is the correlation between the hiking of civil servants’ salaries and the increase in rentals?
What has led to the increase in the price of salt, beef, mealie-meal?
It’s safe to conclude that businesspeople are being driven by greed.
We welcome the condemning of price hikes by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) recently.
CZI president Joseph Kanyekanye said the restoration of import duty by the government was an opportunity for local companies to make profits by producing more and taking advantage of the goodwill consumers have for local products.
“We did not envisage an increase in prices. There is no justification to increase prices for basic commodities. We are of the belief that local goods must be cheaper,” said Kanyekanye.
We urge government to go beyond mere threats by taking action and ensure those caught on the wrong side of the law are severely punished.