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Cost of living marginally up

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The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) has expressed concern over the predatory practices by commuter omnibus operators who arbitrarily hike fares during peak hours, capitalising on the desperation by commuters.

Most routes within Harare cost 50 cents, but unscrupulous commuter operators have been doubling the fare to $1 to cash in on stranded consumers.

In its low-income urban earner monthly basket for a family of six — which recorded an increase of $1,42 from February to March — CCZ said it would continue fighting for fairness in pricing of goods and services.

“CCZ is concerned with the hike in transport fares during peak hours.

“CCZ will continue to monitor the situation closely and continue to advocate for fairer and affordable rates and prices,” it said.

The council also urged landlords who were still increasing rentals to adhere to National Housing and Social Amenities minister Giles Mutsekwa’s directive to revert to the December 2011 rate of $50 per room.

In February, the basket value was pegged at $566,10 and went up to $567,52 in March.

A marginal increase of 0,01% was recorded in the food and detergents basket, which rose from $167,10 to $168,52.

Some of the products whose prices were on the slight ascent were mealie meal ($1,10), white sugar ($0,05), tea leaves ($0,03), rice ($0,09), onions ($0,02), tomatoes ($0,20), cabbage ($0,15) and washing powder ($0,16).

Although some products recorded slight price decreases, CCZ wanted to see more decreases in line with currency rate shifts.

“CCZ also wants to see a downward movement of prices of basic commodities, especially when the rand has weakened against the dollar,” the council said.

“Retailers are quick to increase prices when the rand strengthens against the dollar and yet they ignore it when it is the other way round.”

The basket for transport, rent, water and electricity, health, education, clothing and footwear has, however, remained the same at $399.

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