The Sunday News
Kuda Bwititi, Harare Bureau
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has said pharmacies that demand foreign currency for medicine and medical provisions will lose their licences.
The Head of State and Government said his administration would not stand by while the public was abused by greedy retailers who accessed foreign currency from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, but then still demanded greenbacks from ordinary people.
At the first of his Presidential Thank You Rally at Murombedzi Growth Point in Zvimba yesterday, Zimbabwe’s leader also said he was firmly focused on socio-economic transformation and would from this week go around the country to launch at least 11 major projects.
Addressing thousands of people who turned out for the Mashonaland West rally, President Mnangagwa said Government was taking tough measures on businesses that promoted economic hardships while pursuing profits.
“These pharmacies are charging in US dollars but their employees are not paid in US dollars. We sat down as Cabinet and directed the Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Obadiah Moyo, to tell them Government is not happy with what they are doing.
“The majority of you who were now selling medical provisions, asking for US dollars, it’s not proper because you go and queue at the RBZ asking for foreign currency to import these drugs. There is no reason why you should, therefore, ask the public to purchase these drugs in foreign currency when you yourselves get it from the Reserve Bank. Those of you who do not heed this caution: danger is coming, we will withdraw your licences,” he said, drawing loud cheers from the crowd.
President Mnangagwa said he had told Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu to regularly engage business over-pricing.
“Prices were going up left right and centre, but I called business leaders to State House, and immediately some of them reduced the prices. Fertiliser was increased from $35 to more than $100, but when I engaged with them, they said they would reduce it to $45. Most of the manufacturers and wholesalers are charging acceptable prices, but it is the retailers who have the biggest problem. I asked my young minister, Ndlovu, to meet with them and I am waiting for further details. But if they refuse to reduce prices then they will also lose their licences,” he said.
The President said in line with Government’s focus on the socio-economic sphere, Zimbabwe’s food security has been guaranteed thanks to Command Agriculture which ensured the Strategic Grain Reserve was adequately stocked. He said Command Agriculture beneficiaries who had not abided by contractual obligations would be blacklisted until they honoured their debts.
“We are in our third year with Command Agriculture and it has been a tremendous success because we have eradicated hunger. We now have more than one million tonnes in the Strategic Grain Reserve so that means there is no family that will go hungry because you will receive the grain for free. You should work with your councillors, headmen and chiefs and they will assist you. Every week (Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare) Minister (Dr Sekai) Nzenza briefs us on the food security situation because we want to make sure that no one goes hungry and all those in need of food aid can easily get it. We have enough grain to feed the people until next year and there should be no family in the country that should go hungry.”
The ruling party’s First Secretary added that the Presidential Inputs Scheme was non-discriminatory.
“The Presidential Inputs Scheme is not selective, it is open to everyone regardless of political affiliation,” he said. “We have 1,8 million families that . . . should all benefit from this programme which gives fertiliser and maize seed to every household. This should enable you to provide enough to feed the family at household level. Those in the opposition, MDC, are also free to benefit from this scheme. This programme is open for all and sundry.”
President Mnangagwa said his administration had enhanced democracy, and now everyone should focus on economic development, saying “none but ourselves will take the country forward”.
“Starting (this week) we will have several ground breaking ceremonies. There is going to be the new executive headquarters for Parliament on the 30th of this month. From there, we will go to the lithium mine project that will bring us billions (of dollars). I have a long list, at least 11 projects, on my table.”
The President said the $300 million availed for devolution in the 2018 National Budget demonstrated his Government’s commitment to inclusive development across Zimbabwe. Present at the rally were Vice-President Dr Constantino Chiwenga, Zanu-PF National Chair Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, and ruling party Politburo and Central Committee members among other officials.