Grappling with hyperinflation, the Zimbabwean government on Thursday announced a freeze on prices of all goods and services, and unleashing security agents throughout the country to deal with alleged price gougers and commodity hoarders.
Industry and Trade Minister Obert Mpofu, who ordered price cuts on many essential goods earlier in the week, told the state-controlled Herald newspaper that the ban was being extended to other goods and services that were not previously controlled.
Mpofu said that violators would be dealt with harshly.
Industry ministry sources told VOA that business have been ordered to roll prices back to those which obtained on June 18 as Harare finalizes a list of official prices.
Police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka said a crack team has been deployed to enforce the directive. Youth militia members are said to be monitoring prices in rural areas.
Consumers said conditions in markets were chaotic with some businesses obeying the order and others ignoring it, adding that many goods have vanished from shops.
National Chamber of Commerce President Marah Hativagone told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Harare’s order will create shortages and violates the spirit of the social contract the government has been trying to forge.