Bread price hike exposes govt rot

0
426
Bread

IN the past year, Zimbabweans have been treated to sustained State propaganda to the effect that the economy is on the recovery path.

But currency volatilities have continued unabated and the annual inflation rate, while declining, has remained at unsustainably high levels.

Even as currency shortages escalated, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and the Finance ministry maintained their misleading position that the country was slowly coming out of the woods.

However, the reality is that the economy is far from recovery.

The biggest hurdle that confronts everyone is currency stability.

While the Zimbabwe dollar has depreciated by lower margins on the official market, the currency has been extensively battered on the black market.

Its value has plummeted from about US$1:$120 a year ago, to the current US$1:$225.

Some have reported buying the greenback at about US$1:$240 on the black market.

Currency depreciation has forced many businesses, including State-owned corporations and agencies, to effect huge price increases.

With high prices and an unsustainably high unemployment rate, the quality of life has deteriorated for millions.

Shockingly, government has responded by waging a war against non-governmental organisations which have been assisting the poor.

It looks like nobody in government cares about the plight of the poor.

They are determined to maintain their stranglehold on power, but extremely disinterested in carrying out interventions that ameliorate public suffering.

But the masterstroke was this week’s bread price hike by a staggering 15% to $210 per loaf, from $175.

It cannot be worse than this.

The bread price hike came at a time when the consumer basket for Zimbabweans recently went up to $73 000 monthly for a family of six, from $58 000.

In contrast, workers’ earnings have not increased at the same pace and in some cases, have remained the same for over a year.

It no longer makes sense for Zimbabweans to work in a formal set-up.

This is why there has been extensive informalisation of the economy.

Yet those who have tried their luck at small businesses have been stung by depressed demand — it is a vicious cycle.

Companies are unable to increase salaries because they are also feeling the pinch.

This leaves consumers in complete quandary, with nowhere to turn to.

Zanu PF bigwigs run most of the big firms in Zimbabwe, hence they are unlikely to implement policies that affect their pockets.

Even if ad hoc policies are implemented as has become the norm given  the rate of currency decimation and inflationary surge, price volatilities will continue, and the vicious cycle of despair will also continue.

Soon, Zimbabwe could be hit by food price protests, which will further hurt the frail economy.

Under these circumstances, the need for authorities to act and stop the rot remains critical.

Further delays will plunge millions in a far more difficult position, amid diminishing food stocks, inability to pay for medical requirements, rates and school fees.

This is no time for rhetoric.

If President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is serious about rebuilding the economy, the time to do so is now.