Businesses in Zimbabwe’s major cities, especially Bulawayo and Harare, have started increasing prices of goods in response to the MDC pullout from government last week.
The decision to pullout from the unity government by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC was in protest over the treatment of his senior aide, insisting that all unresolved issues of the deal must be dealt with before the MDC could work with President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF.
However, a survey carried out by Sunday Standard in Bulawayo this week revealed that most supermarkets have increased prices of basic commodities in response to the MDC pullout.
10 kilograms of mealie-meal which was being sold at US$3, 50 is now selling at US$4, 50 whilst two liters of cooking oil and a loaf of bread are now going for US$4 and US$1, 50 from US$3 and US$1 respectively.
Shop owners and managers who spoke to Sunday Standard said last week’s political development shook the economy as the MDC is holding important ministries like Finance and Economic Planning in government which are also key to the economy.
“We had no option but to increase the prices of some basic commodities as most manufacturers and wholesalers have also increased their prices in response to the MDC pullout,” said a supermarket owner who operates from the city centre.
A manager with a supermarket-chain said: “What should be understood is that the MDC runs this economy, so whatever move they make whether it’s positive or negative affects the economy. This is why we are also adjusting our prices.”
However, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) spokesperson, Comfort Muchekeza, blasted businesses that rushed to increase prices after last week’s unexpected MDC disengagement saying they are being greedy.
“This is being greedy. These people are just taking advantage of the situation, there were no major changes in government which affected the economy,” said Muchekeza.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president Obert Sibanda said investors had started trickling in, but the MDC partial pullout would send the wrong signal.
“Investors were coming because of the political stability that had begun prevailing in the country,” said Sibanda. “It had started giving them confidence. Any sign of collapse creates a lot of panic among potential investors who may have started showing interest in investing in the country. A lot of investors have been enquiring about the position in the country and the future and we keep assuring them that this is a passing phase. Some had already started querying long before the disengagement following some pronouncements in the media.”