The Sunday News
Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Gwanda Correspondent
THE Government has said it will have to enforce price reductions as some shops were not adhering to the price moratorium which they had committed to.
The moratorium seeks to control pricing of basic commodities. The Government announced a moratorium of prices on basic commodities that were spiralling out of control without justification.
In line with the move the private sector agreed to revert to prices that were prevailing on 25 March 2020. Speaking on Friday at Gwanda Provincial Hospital during a visit to monitor progress in fighting Covid-19 Vice-President Kembo Mohadi who is also the chairperson of the Ad-Hoc inter-Ministerial Committee on Covid-19 outbreak said the Government was committed towards ensuring food security in the country.
“We know that the prevailing situation isn’t pleasant. There are a lot of challenges — businesses are not operating, the economy is suffering, there is a lot of unemployment since our economy is largely informal and the informal sector isn’t working and there is no disposable income. People are beginning to feel the impact.
“As Government we said while people couldn’t access everything at the moment, they should have access to basic commodities. Hence we had to subsidise mealie-meal and we had to get into an agreement with some businesspeople involved in the manufacturing and retail sector.
“We had a moratorium where we agreed that prices had to revert to the prices of 25 March. Some have observed that and some haven’t but since it’s something that we didn’t coerce anyone into as they signed voluntarily, we will have to enforce it to see that it’s done. It’s not price control, it was a mutual understanding that we need to help people,” he said.
VP Mohadi said to ensure food security in the country the Government through the Social Welfare Department was distributing maize to the people. He said two weeks back Matabeleland South received about 400 tonnes and last week the allocation almost doubled to more than 700 tonnes.
“We are trying by all means to bring food to the people. Food security is very important to us as Government.
“You will bear with us, it’s a problem which is affecting everyone. It’s this New Dispensation that is concerned with feeding the urban population. The First Republic Government used to deal with rural areas but we as the New Dispensation also feed the vulnerable people in our cities,” he said.
The moratorium is part of measures to cope with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown measures required to contain the threat.
The moratorium follows recent steep increases in prices of basic goods including bread, super refined maize meal, cooking oil, flour and sugar.
However, despite multi-sectoral stakeholders having committed to the moratorium which will apply to all value chain players and is supported by a Cabinet decision of April 21 some shops have not reduced prices of basic commodities while some shops have actually increased prices. – @DubeMatutu