Protect the poor

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WE do not believe in the economics of protectionism, neither are we disciples of price controls, but we feel strongly that the pricing regime on basic commodities now obtaining in this country is unacceptable and exploitative.

Recently we published an article highlighting how prices of basic goods have been going up since the coronavirus lockdown started on March 30.

Entrepreneurs have hiked prices by over 100 percent since the shutdown, leaving long-suffering Zimbabweans drifting more into abject poverty.

Besides the prices going up, some of the goods like sugar and maize meal have disappeared from supermarket shelves, apparently to create artificial shortages and increase prices.

This daylight robbery is engineered and executed by greedy retailers and middlemen.
Economic analysts told us that the exponential price rises were triggered mainly by the galloping black market exchange rate — now around $70 to the US$; and sheer greed.

We wonder what became of the National Incomes and Pricing Commission whose mandate was to monitor prices and ensure that there was no profiteering.

The impact of the astronomical price increases is heavily affecting the poor and the downtrodden. It has a negative impact on our economic revival.

In reality, the skewed pricing model is the greatest threat to the government’s efforts to turn around the comatose economy.

The government must intervene and stop the nonsense of profiteering. By adopting a lackadaisical attitude, a wait-and-see approach, the government would be doing a disservice to the poor and prolonging the revival of the economy.

We will never have an economic rebirth as espoused by the ever-blundering Finance minister Mthuli Ncube.
The move last week by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to task Ncube and central bank governor John Mangudya to come up with measures to arrest the continued decline of the economy is a step in the right direction.

Robust measures to end the spiralling of prices for basic commodities and checkmating the underground exchange rate would go a long way in cushioning the poor.

The ball is entirely in the government’s hands to protect the masses from vampires masquerading as businesspeople.

Entrepreneurship is not profiteering and measures to stem this theft from the masses should not be confused as protectionism or a stride back to command economics!

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