CHAIRMAN of the COVID-19 Taskforce, Vice President Retired General Constantino Chiwenga has ordered a price freeze on basic commodities to ensure retailers do not profiteer from consumers during the lockdown when there will be restricted movements.
The taskforce made the decision to allow consumers to access the goods at affordable prices during the 21-day lockdown that kicks off at midnight today.
Retailers have been told that those found defying the order will be immediately closed for the entire duration of the lockdown which runs until April 20 but can be reviewed subject to situation.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Mr Denford Mutashu confirmed that retailers have been ordered to freeze the prices.
“Basic commodity price increases are frozen as a sector contribution measure to Zimbabweans who have to date supported our businesses through good and hard times. Retail outlets that will increase prices of basic commodities during this difficult time will be closed indefinitely,” he told State-owned media.
The goods covered under the directive are:
- cooking oil,
- sanitary pads,
- bottled water,
- pharmaceutical products,
- sanitary gloves,
- sanitisers, and
- washing soaps.
The order comes after retail shops yesterday increased prices of most basic commodities after people started panic buying ahead of the lockdown.
Reports indicated some retailers had already started hiking prices last week in anticipation of the lockdown that was eventually announced by President Mnangagwa on Friday evening.
Investigations show that some retail shops had increased prices by more than 100 percent within a week.
The taskforce also directed millers to immediately stop supplying mealie-meal to shops in the Central Business District and concentrate on shops situated in residential areas.
Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe president Mr Tafadzwa Musarara confirmed the order in a statement.
“Millers have been directed by the Command Centre to immediately stop supplying maize meal in CBD forthwith. All deliveries to be made to residential areas only
“This applies at nationwide scale, this is a security directive to avoid stampeding of consumers as they queue in the CBD, where the numbers are high during the day,” Musarara said