Govt to punish overcharging businesses

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PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has warned businesses involved in the manufacture of essential materials for the fight against Covid-19 against profiteering and taking advantage of the situation to milk hard-pressed citizens.

Addressing the media on Monday on the coronavirus outbreak, Mnangagwa said any evidence of irresponsible corporate misbehaviour will prompt the government to punish the offenders.

“I appeal to those involved in the manufacturing and trading of materials essential in the fight against coronavirus to resist the temptation of callously feeding fat on the current situation through extortionate pricing,” Mnangagwa said.

“These materials include protective clothing, masks and sanitisers, among other items. Any evidence of irresponsible corporate misbehaviour will leave government with no option but to come down heavily on offenders.

“We will have to behave responsibly to protect the public.”

This comes as civil society organisations like Transparency International and Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) are calling on accountability and transparency in dealing with the pandemic.

“The government, through the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (Saz), must ensure quality checks on the medical equipment and necessities in the wake of an influx of new products in the market,” Zimcodd said in a statement.

“Precautionary measures must be taken to guard against ‘tenderpreneurship’ in which some individuals and companies win government tenders without going through the open contracting processes provided for in Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act of 2017.”

Meanwhile, the Shipping and Freight Forwarders Agents Association of Zimbabwe has urged the government to temporarily suspend duty on all imports of masks, sanitisers and synthetic rubber gloves used to protect people from the coronavirus.

The association said the suspension of duty on these items would help boost local stocks through imports from other countries in the region.

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