The National Competitive Commission Board (NCCB) in conjunction with the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe has dispatched a task force to assess the pricing of commodities nationwide following reports of a hike in the prices of some basic goods.
In a statement, the NCCB said, “Retailers who may be found wanting will have their licenses terminated with immediate effect.”
The Commission further said all the officers under this program will be having identification cards issued by the commission. “Shop owners are free to verify if the officers are bona fide before engaging them.
“Numbers of the officers dispatched are expected to increase as the week goes by, as part of government’s efforts to cover part of the country.”
Independent economic commentator, including Rejoice Ngwenya of Liberal Market Solutions, dismissed the Commission’s move as a meaningless threat.
“This has not helped in lowering prices of basic commodities in the past and it will not happen too this time. Prices of commodities are determined by market forces,” Ngwenya told VOA Studio 7 Livetalk on Monday.
Zimbabwe attempted to control prices at the height of biting hyperinflation in 2008 without any success.
Zimbabweans are buying goods in bulk following fears of crippling shortages of basic commodities due to the declining economic situation in the country.
Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo on Sunday issued a statement warning Zimbabweans to avoid making any remarks claiming that the nation may face serious shortages of commodities.
He said his ministry is monitoring “irresponsible press and social media reports falsely claiming that there’s chaos in the currency market that has precipitated widespread panic buying of basic commodities due to their alleged shortage or skyrocketing prices.
“It is notable that the running thread of these hyperbolic press and social media reports is their propaganda that the country has suddenly slipped back to the hyperinflationary days of 2008. Of grave concern to the ministry is that these reports have all the trappings of a politically-coordinated criminal agenda by some well-known renegades and malcontents who now seek to disturb the peace in the country to cause alarm and despondency in pursuit of an illegal political program.”
Chombo said spreading alarm and despondency “is not an expression of democracy nor is it media freedom. It is a criminal offence and is therefore punishable.”
This coincided with the arrest of Pastor Evan Mawarire of #ThisFlag movement, who appeared in a video on Saturday, urging Zimbabweans to protest against fuel shortages and related issues.
Mawarire, who has not yet been charged, is currently in custody. No charges have been laid against him.
He appeared in court on Monday for a previous case in which he faced charges of attempting to subvert a constitutionally-elected government and inciting public violence.
Mawarire spearheaded mass protests in 2016 after appearing in several videos urging Zimbabweans to boycott work and school and stage public protests against the deteriorating economic situation in the country.
Thousands of people joined the protest, which shutdown Zimbabwe for almost two days.