LEADING retail shops in Bulawayo have been exposed for profiteering after they were caught selling basic commodities beyond retail prices recommended by suppliers.
The deplorable consumer manipulative behaviour was unearthed on Wednesday by a team of price monitors who were unleashed by the Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) in the city.
The price-monitors visited shops in the Central Business District, high and low density suburbs.
GMAZ produces and supplies basics such as mealie-meal, flour, salt, samp and rice among other products.
A big retail outlet at Ascot Shopping centre was selling 2kg rice for $16,99 instead of the recommended $13,68. Another big retail outlet in the CBD was also selling the same packet of rice for exactly the same price as that being charged by the Ascot shop.
Another retail outlet in the CBD was selling the same packet for $15,49 and a 2kg packet of salt at $5,75 instead of $4,80. A retail outlet in Mpopoma high density suburb was selling 2kg self-raising flour for $15,50 against the recommended price of $14,72.
On being interviewed during the visits the officials at these shops declined to comment referring questions to senior management.
GMAZ ethics and compliance committee chairperson, Mr Alvin Mparutsa, said the objective of the exercise was to check if retailers were adhering to recommended retail prices after GMAZ signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers.
“The objective today was to engage mainly the consumers who are buying our products and the retailers who are selling our products. We agreed with the retailers on the mark-ups so that our products remain affordable to consumers,” he said.
The ongoing price monitoring programme has so far been conducted in Harare, Masvingo, Mutare, Zvishavane, Lupane and other rural areas across the country.
After the price monitoring exercise, Mr Mparutsa said, GMAZ will compile a report that will guide the association going forward.
“We are quite happy with what we have seen so far, most of the retailers that we visited have complied, here and there although some retailers are charging more than the recommended prices on some products.
Contacted for comment Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers’ president, Mr Denford Mutashu accused GMAZ of conducting the exercise without their involvement.
“It is ridiculous that they went first to the media without consulting us as their partner,” he said
Commenting on the visit by price-monitors, consumers said they were happy that millers were concerned about the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities.
“We are happy about this initiative the millers have taken which shows they want their products to remain affordable to the majority of consumers,” said Mr Edward Munkombwe.
Another consumer Mrs Rhoda Kabila echoed similar sentiments saying more producers of basic commodities should engage retailers so that prices remain affordable.