The Sunday News
Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
THE public will soon access cheaper basic commodities at Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots throughout the country as the Government moves to mitigate the wanton price increases by unscrupulous businesspeople.
This was said by President Mnangagwa on his maiden radio interview with Capitalk 100 FM which was broadcast live on Friday evening. In recent months, the country has witnessed price increases by some businesspeople who are profiteering at the expense of the public.
“When we say the road we are on is tough, these are some of the tough things. These are the challenges that we have to surmount. There is an issue of basic commodities that we use every day. These had been going up each day and we called the businesspeople to discuss this and they agreed to reduce prices but it seems they have started again. So now the basic foods will be availed. GMB has points throughout the country and now we will have our food there, the cost of cooking oil, flour, mealie-meal and other basics will now be subsidised,” said President Mnangagwa.
The President lamented businesses that were thriving on the hapless consumers but said this would come to an end as commodities would be available soon. He said some employers were short changing their employees by selling products in foreign currency and not awarding salaries in that same currency. President Mnangagwa said price controls were not going to work, but market forces should influence the prices of commodities.
“For the economy to grow we must not prescribe prices for goods, market forces must determine the prices, we need competition, we need more and more people in our commerce and industry,” he said.
Asked if austerity measures that were being subjected to the people were also being faced by top officials, the President said it was a prescription for all citizens.
“When we started austerity measures we cut salaries of ministers and us too the top officials. But what I eat is what you eat, what I wear is also what you wear. The lives of our people which we want to make better must be achieved after going through several aspects of reforming our economy, reforming the way we do business and in that process a lot of suffering will come but what we will achieve is what we are looking forward to as a goal. So far we have identified what we need to do in the many areas of our economy,” he said.
He said the journey to economic recovery was a long one and people should buckle up and be ready to resuscitate the economy that is facing challenges.
“We cannot reach where we want to go without resurrecting the economy that had collapsed. The situation in this country was because of various issues major of which was sanctions which collapsed the economy and currency. If we are to move forward we need to buckle up and be strong. It’s necessary to walk that journey, if we don’t take such measures we will not make progress. We have to sacrifice some things in order to prosper,” he said.
Asked on the prospects of the new currency, President Mnangagwa said like every country, Zimbabwe must have its own currency and said soon the country will do away with the basket of currencies that it currently uses. However, he said that currency has to be backed up by production.
“We cannot introduce a currency when we have not created an economic environment where it can be sustained, to do so production must be there and corruption must be eliminated. Then we will introduce a new currency and there is no need for people to feel the need to be better off with the Rand or the Pula,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was not going to join the Rand Monetary Union.
“Our currency had collapsed in 2008 so we decided to do something about it and we approached South Africa to say let us adopt the Rand as our domestic currency but when we did they gave us a check list for certain things for us to comply with using their currency. They looked at our GDP. We would need to agree with them to give us money equivalent to our GDP and economy. And some of the conditions were not acceptable and there was no need to comply with their demands. The law is there which can allow one to get the Rand and pay workers in Rand without necessarily joining the Rand Monetary Union,” he said.
He, however, said the country was making a surplus of about $400 million each month following the success of the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP).
“Due to the fiscus consolidation that the Government implemented, we have started recording surpluses. I have been in the previous Government and we have never recorded a surplus. This is millions, getting above 100 million US dollar which is about 400 million RTGS. This is above expenditure on a monthly basis so this is the money that we use to create safety nets at the low level to help the less privileged so that we cushion them. It’s only starting but as we go on, people will appreciate the reforms that we are doing. We will never progress or have a better life without reforming our economy, without adapting to modern practices worldwide that we must do, however, painful we must achieve that and we must continue to do it,” said President Mnangagwa.