THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) says it believes that the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) and government have a “hit list” of business leaders that they want arrested before the elections. CZI president, Callisto Jokonya, told businessdigest this week that business leaders are living in fear of being arrested.
Jokonya said there were fears among CZI members that the NIPC and government could heighten the crackdown on business leaders it accuses of overcharging.
“Zimbabwe is filled with so much confusion and chaos,” said Jokonya. “Frankly speaking, our members fear more arrests after we heard of that list. Ask the NIPC, they should be able to tell you more on that.”
Two industry executives have been arrested over the past week but Jokonya said more arrests were possible “because there seems to be a new resolution at NIPC to deal with businesses”.
The two are Blue Ribbon Foods chief executive, Michael Manga and National Foods managing director, Joseph Brooke, who were arrested on charges of contravening the National Incomes and Pricing Act.
“So far, those two have been arrested but with talk of that list, more could be arrested and that fear from industry is substantiated.”
Manga and Brooke are being accused of selling flour at above the gazetted price of $600 million a tonne set by the NIPC. The NIPC chairman, Godwills Masimirembwa, however dismissed the claims as baseless.
“That is totally false. We have no hit list although we have received reports that several supermarkets are removing products from the shelves and spreading rumours of a price blitz,” Masimirembwa said.
He said the NIPC had warned Brooke and Manga since January 12 this year to stop overcharging.
“We told them to comply but they would not. It is not a vendetta but we cannot sit back and watch such behaviour. We try and consult and where people are deviating from gazetted prices, we warn them first. It is not a vendetta,” he said.
Masimirembwa said the NIPC still wanted to work with businesses to come up with new prices.
“We are interested in discussions always. But what are we expected
to do when we warn someone and they don’t heed the Act?” Masimirembwa said.
Over 1 328 businessmen and women were arrested last year in the space of two weeks during a crackdown by government for breaking price controls.