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Zimbabwe Records Marginal Decrease in Prices of Basic Commodities

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says the monthly basket for a low-income urban dweller decreased by at least $8 last month due to a reduction in prices of some basic commodities including meat and cooking oil.

CCZ director Rosemary Siyachitema told VOA the consumer cost decreased from $568 in April to $560 in May.

Siyachitema said the average price decreases ranged from 2c to 64 cents. The affected basic goods include beef, rice, tea leaves, cabbage, onions, tomatoes and cooking oil.

She said prices of commodities such as fuel, salt and laundry soap went up by between one cent and 4 cents during the same period.

But some residents of Bulawayo, Gweru and Harare said the price decreases were insignificant as they are still struggling to make ends meet.

Thulani Ndaba said the figures released by the consumer watchdog are inaccurate. "There were slight decreases in meat prices and not other commodities," said Ndaba.

Gweru resident Sikhumbuzo Mangena said meat prices went up in the city, making the commodity out of reach for most of them.

The Council further said results of the FinScope Consumer Survey Zimbabwe 2011, a nationally representative study of demand, usage and access to financial services, showed that 36% of the country’s population had to skip a meal because of lack of money.

They survey, conducted by a South African firm in conjuction with the Council and other stakeholders, indicates that 61% of the population ran out of cash at some stage and “had to make a plan for daily needs”.

It revealed that four in every five economically active Zimbabweans earn less than $200 per month and most people no longer trust the nation’s banking services.