A monthly cost of a food basket in Zimbabwe for a family of six has increased owing to distortions in the country over the international exchange rates.
A food basket for a family of six went up to US$148.30 from last month’s figure of US$138.05, a quick reminder that the country’s ten year economic nightmares are still not out of the woods despite a unity government formed February.
This also highlights that the majority of Zimbabweans are still going hungry and cannot afford food basics since they earn less than US$200.
Zimbabwe dumped its hyper-inflated local currency in favour of regional and international stable currencies like the South African rand, the Botswana pula, the United States dollar and the British pound.
However, the most used currencies are the rands and the US dollar as other currencies are scarce in the country. As a result, this has caused distortions on the exchange rates, especially with the recent firming of the rand against the US dollar, thereby leading to a spike the cost of most food basics.
A firming rand means food basics imported into the country from S.A become expensive for local consumers since most shops and supermarkets would be pegging their goods using various US$ to rand exchange rates.
“In June, the food section for a family of six was US$138, 05 and in July it rose to US$148, 30, owing to the firming of the South African rand and distortions that characterized the fuel market,” said Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) Executive Director, Rosemary Siyachitema.
However, the cost of living for July dropped by one percent from June.
CCZ executive director attributed the marginal decline to the re-introduction of actual usage bills by utilities, instead of estimates.
“This shows a marginal decrease of one percent. We attribute this decrease to the re-introduction of issuing of actual usage bills to consumers by utilities such as the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority,” she said.
She said the soaps and detergent section had dropped although the change was not remarkable.
“Products under the soap and detergent section dropped from US$15, 17 in June to US$15, and 06 last month.”
The rent, water, education, clothing and footwear basket also experienced a reduction from $349 to $344 as a result of the introduction of actual usage bills and continued supply of imports on clothing and footwear, bringing competition resulting in low prices.
Ms Siyachitema applauded service providers for re-introducing actual usage bills.
Meanwhile, CCZ has begun conducting surveys in major retail outlets to help consumers make rational decisions when buying products.
“As CCZ, we have begun conducting marketing surveys in the country’s supermarkets so that we provide consumers with data on where they can buy goods at fairly reasonable prices. In addition, we also urge the transacting public to compare prices before buying,” said Ms Siyachitema.