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Zimbabwe Government Considers Another Price Crackdown On Businesses

The government of Zimbabwe is weighing another crackdown on manufacturers and service providers to keep prices from soaring any higher, official sources said.

But they add that a full-scale crackdown along lines of "Operation Reduce Prices" in which more than 23,0000 business people were arrested in July and August is out of question as President Robert Mugabe's cabinet is divided on the issue.

The sources said officials backing a new crackdown have Mr. Mugabe's support, but the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, which currently has its hands full trying to end cash shortages, has expressed opposition to a new crackdown on business.

Chairman Godwills Masimirembwa of the National Incomes and Pricing Commission told the state-controlled Herald newspaper that he has given the Zimbabwe Republic Police a list of businesses which are alleged to have violated price-control rules.

Masimirembwa told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that those businesses which defy his commission will feel the wrath of the law.

National Chamber of Commerce President Marah Hativagone said that she has been taken aback by the magnitude of recent corporate price increases.

Most ordinary Zimbabweans are struggling - and many failing - to make ends meet as a result of the steep and continuing price increases with hyperinflation estimated by independent economists to be running in excess of 50,000% over 12 months.

Most Zimbabweans earn less than Z$20 million a month, but one chicken costs Z$20 million, two liters of cooking oil fetch Z$18 million and 2 kilograms of sugar Z$5 million. Transport fares have also gone up with commuters paying some $Z2 million a day.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...