Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter 

PRICES of basic commodities have skyrocketed in Bulawayo this week, a development attributed to speculative behaviour linked to Covid-19 that is impacting on global economies. 

President Mnangagwa in his address on Monday urged corporates to redouble their social responsibility efforts by not taking advantage of the disaster situation to increase prices.

A snap survey made by The Chronicle observed that prices of most basic commodities have increased by significant margins in Bulawayo shops.

 A two-litre bottle of cooking oil costs between $114 and $120 depending on the brand and last week it was selling at $84.

Two litres of Mazoe juices increased to $119 from $87,2kg, rice costs between $85 and $90 from about $70, a 2kg packet of sugar costs $65 from $44,2kg flour went up $85 from $65.

The cheapest tissue paper was selling for $35 from $25 last week.

Consumers yesterday lamented the price hikes.

They said the sudden price explosion did not tally with their incomes which remain very low.

The new wave of price hikes seems not be directly linked to exchange rates as the US dollar was trading at $42 from $45 last week for electronic transfer on the parallel market while the official market trailed at $39.

 Consumer Council of Zimbabwe southern region regional manager Mr Comfort Muchekeza, said coronavirus has triggered speculative behaviour in the market with consumers partly to blame.

“The issue is to do with speculation which has increased demand on products. This issue of coronavirus has led to people not being certain whether shops will be opened or not and the business community is taking advantage of that. People are buying in bulk and it creates a product demand. For businesses to manage supply and demand they are increasing prices which is very unfortunate,” said Mr Muchekeza.

He said to stop members of the public hoarding products authorities should come out and assure the generality of citizens that there would be constant food supplies in shops.

 Mr Muchekeza said fake news was contributing to speculative behaviour. 

“We need a situation where authorities are proactive. Instead of responding to lies which would have been peddled, first and foremost they should give the consumers the right information before lies start flying around,” said Mr Muchekeza. 

 Retailers Association of Zimbabwe president

could not be reached for comment on his cellphone.

 In a statement on Monday, OK Zimbabwe chief executive officer Mr Alex Siyavora said due to some consumers buying in bulk the company has resolved to limit the number of items that customers can buy. 

“Over the last couple of days, we have experienced an increase in business activity with some customers stocking up mostly on basic commodities, household cleaning products as well as personal hygiene products. It is evident that some customers may be purchasing beyond their normal requirements. 

“We have as a result had to limit purchase quantities per customer on some product lines in order to ensure that as many of our customers as possible have access to these products. We stay engaged with our suppliers of merchandise so that we remain as adequately stocked as possible for the shopping convenience of our customers,” said Mr Siyavora.

Association for Business in Zimbabwe’s chief executive officer Mr Victor Nyoni, whose organisation represents manufacturers said while the trend has been that companies are chasing after the exchange rate, some of them were now profiteering due to Covid-19.

“Some businesses are already strategising around the impact of the coronavirus. Countries in Sadc and beyond are already closing their borders. It means there is a rush to import goods and some people see this as an opportunity to profiteer because there is a question of demand and supply,” said Mr Nyoni.

He said it was time for the country’s productive sector to up its game and fill the gap that could be left by imports during this [email protected]