EDITORIAL COMMENT: Profiteering retailers should be named, shamed

Zimbabwean-Supermarket

Retailers have pledged to continue reviewing prices of basic commodities downwards as long as cost drivers are reduced. Government last week reduced the excise duty on petrol and diesel by 6,5 cents and 7 cents respectively.

Petrol dealers immediately responded by reducing the pump price of fuel and retailers have also reduced prices of basic commodities. Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers’ president, Mr Denford Mutashu, said retailers will continue to reduce prices as long as cost drivers are reduced. “We are part of an engagement process which is being coordinated by Government to stabilise prices,” said Mr Mutashu.

Industry and Commerce have identified fuel, electricity and labour as major cost drivers and what is encouraging is that a marginal reduction in excise duty on fuel has triggered a reduction in the pump price which in turn has seen retailers reviewing their prices downwards.

What has been proved is that once the issue of major cost drivers has been addressed, prices of basic commodities will stabilise. We therefore want to implore Government to work closely with Industry and Commerce to address the issue of major cost drivers so that products become affordable.

There are, however, some unscrupulous businesspeople who are after profiteering and their prices have nothing to do with cost of production. This unethical conduct has forced the ruling party Zanu-PF to set up an ad hoc committee to deal with wanton increases of prices of basic commodities.

The committee chaired by the party’s Second Secretary and Vice President General Constantino Guveya Chiwenga (retired) has been asked to deal decisively with unscrupulous businesspeople. It should also be the duty of Mr Mutashu’s organisation to identify retailers that are profiteering through charging exorbitant prices while the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) should monitor the prices of producers.

Zanu-PF has said it is aware of individuals that want to cause confusion and inflict economic pain on the people. Mr Mutashu said the business community appreciated Government moves to reduce production costs and as already pointed out, Mr Mutashu’s organisation should identify those individual retailers that are charging exorbitant prices in order to profiteer and expose them.

Businesses should not be allowed to make super profits by exploiting consumers through charging exorbitant prices. Businesspeople in a new Zimbabwe should be sensitive to the plight of consumers who give them the business. Those who want to sabotage the economy by charging ridiculous prices have no place in Zimbabwe. These outcasts must be identified, exposed and shamed.