National Consumer Rights Association
17 April 2019
PRESS STATEMENT ON LATEST PRICE HIKES
The price and shortage of bread can and do start revolutions. Lest we forget, it is not only the hunger for land that can trigger a revolution but also the unmitigated hikes of prices of basic commodities, transport, health care, education, and other goods and services. If government and business somehow think that Zimbabwean consumers can and will take endless and punishing price hikes like we are seeing these days, then they are in for a rude and game change awakening. It Is increasingly clear as daylight that unless consumers take extraordinary measures to curtail this pain there will be no end in sight.
While we appreciate the country’s economic difficulties, in the tripartite of government, business and consumer both employed and unemployed, it is unfair for other partners to expect the consumer to be the only one who bears the burden of economic challenges. While as consumers, like government and business, we do value stability and will strive to preserve it, we also value even more that we be able to feed our children, pay school fees, pay rentals, access health care, and buy all basic commodities at an affordable price. The unabated price rises pose a serious threat to that stability and the only way to preserve it is to curb prices through the right formula. The consumer, already suffering under the triple burden of poverty, unemployment, and low salaries, cannot and should not be expected to absorb unending price hikes. It will be a grave miscalculation to expect otherwise.
We believe government and business can and should do more to curb the unmitigated price madness. But if our petitions go unattended to and the situation is not quickly brought under control we will be forced as consumers to take additional actions including possibly calling for a crippling consumer mass action. We will fight back and fight back hard.
These price hikes are deepening poverty and eroding the food and nutritional security of households in a huge way. Consequently, the standards of living of consumers are steeply plummeting with no sight of the end. What makes the hikes even more painful is that salaries have not risen in real terms in over many years and business has done nothing to remedy collapsing incomes. Therefore, each rise in prices is further confining the unemployed further into debilitating and abject poverty and tremendously eroding the static savings of senior citizens and the disposable incomes of workers across all industries resulting in them taking home salaries that can only buy a tiny percentage of what their salaries used to buy just 24 months ago.
As we have done before, we call upon government and business to urgently mitigate the situation by addressing the core fundamentals of the economy, eliminating profiteering and pricing corruption and distortions, and urgently convening a stakeholder summit on pricing and prices. The current situation is totally unsustainable and unacceptable.