GOVERNMENT has launched a second price blitz against retailers and manufacturers, forcing them to slash prices of goods and commodities less than one week after the contentious electoral victory of President Robert Mugabe.
Several retailers and manufacturers countrywide were this week being forced to reduce prices by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) demanding that they charge the same prices as government’s People’s Shops.
Commodities have already begun disappearing from shops as retailers now fear incurring massive losses in the wake of the blitz.
Retailers who spoke to businessdigest on condition of anonymity said they had been approached by the police and asked to slash their prices and make them level with the prices found in people’s shops.
“We were told to reduce the price of two litres of Mazoe from $70 billion to $2,5 billion,” said one retailer. “We were also forced to reduce the price of our beef from $105 billion a kg to $8 billion which they said was what People’s Shops were charging.”
The blitz comes in the aftermath of discussions held between the Ministry of Industry and International Trade, the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC), the ZRP and business this week.
The meeting which was called for by Industry and International Trade secretary Colonel Christian Katsande saw the business community being grilled about the rising prices by both Ministry and NIPC officials and threatened with “unspecified” action.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president Marah Hativagone said the Chamber had received reports of retailers and manufacturers being forced to lower their prices.
“We understand that several of our members have been told to lower their prices,” Hativagone said. “We are trying to get to the bottom of the matter and find out who is carrying out this operation. We don’t have all the facts though.”
The NIPC chairman Godwills Masimirembwa would not divulge the details of the meeting but told businessdigest that the exercise by police forcing retailers to reduce prices was not a price blitz but just routine police work.
“There is no price blitz going on,” Masimirembwa said. “The police are just doing their work, forcing businesses to comply with stipulated and approved NIPC prices. We are not aware if there is any specific operation but we do know that what has been going on has been the enforcement of the law by police.”
Minister of Industry and International Trade, Obert Mpofu refused to comment on the matter.
“I am just coming from Cairo (Egypt) and have just arrived,” Mpofu said. “Even if such developments were there, I don’t think I would be able to comment at the moment, but speak to Katsande.”
By Kuda Chikwanda