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Parly wants ministerial statement on price increases

By Daniel Chigundu

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Tsitsi Gezi says the National Assembly is going to call on the Minister of Industry and Commerce Mangaliso Ndlovu to give a ministerial statement on the price increases being experienced in the economy.

Since the government dumped the 1:1 parity between the US Dollar and the Bond Note, prices of goods and services have astronomically risen to unimaginable levels, a development that has drastically reduced the levels of disposable income.

To make the situation worse, the government went on to increase fuel prices and announced that it was liberalising the sector.

Despite promises by Ministers of Industry and Commerce and Finance and Economic Development that prices will soon fall, the opposite has been true.

Speaking in the National Assembly, Chegutu West legislator Dexter Nduna said he is alarmed by the level of price increases especially on basic goods such as sugar, cooking oil and mealie meal among others.

Below is the full text of what Honourable Nduna said concerning the matter:

Honourable Nduna: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. Having noticed that there is no notice of motion, I rise on a point of privilege on Section 68 read with Section 69 of the Standing Rules and Orders. I am alarmed by the way the prices of basic necessities are skyrocketing.  It is with a heavy heart that I stand here.

I am quite shocked that some basic inputs and necessities such as cooking oil, sugar and other needs are changing in price each day.  For instance, yesterday a two litres bottle of cooking oil was RTGS $22, today it is at RTGS $30.  It is at this price in renowned big departmental shops like OK and TM.

However, I ask that they produced empirical scientific evidence as to how they are arriving at these prices if they are not being directed by speculative tendencies or petty party political machinations.

We recently debated the Consumer Protection Bill.  Speculators out there who we tried to outlaw using the Consumer Protection Bill should be nabbed immediately.  We should not be held at ransom by people who just arrive at a figure of 1:9 versus the greenback or the US$ without any knowledge and anything to suggest what it is that they are benchmarking on which is the cause of the skyrocketing of these prices.

Therefore, I call upon the arms or captains of industry to investigate their own in terms of not price controls but making sure that they arrest the un-wanton price increases by arresting those that are causing those price increases, those businesses. If they do not produce empirical and scientific evidence as to how they have arrived at these prices that are upping every day, they should be arrested immediately by their own; thus sending a thief to catch a thief.

The second issue, I ask if the Minister of Industry and Commerce could come to this House and give any reason why prices are wantonly skyrocketing each day; in particular on issues and basic necessities that have raw materials produced here in Zimbabwe using local currency and labour whose labour is being paid by local RTGS$.

It would be prudent for him to come and favour us with a Ministerial Statement as to exactly why the arms of industry, industry players and business people, in particular, those big businesses are skyrocketing prices of cooking oil for instance; which they are buying at a very low wholesale price.  For example, Zimgold Cooking Oil whose crude oil is produced in Chegutu West Constituency at a rate of 50 000 litres and 1 500 000 million litres per month.

That cooking oil has not gone up in price to warrant that that commodity skyrockets to RTGS $30 per two-litre bottle. So, I ask that you make a ruling as it relates to that ministerial statement as well as it relates to the arms of industry policing their own so that they can be nipped in the bud and the issue of price hikes stops immediately without any further ado.  I thank you.

In her response to the motion by Honourable Nduna, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Tsitsi Gezi said “thank you Honourable Nduna.

“We will call the Minister of Industry and Commerce to come and give us a ministerial statement,” she said.

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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is a male journalist in Zimbabwe and has been practising since September 2009. He writes for The Business Connect (newspaper) in Harare, has his own news website Tourism Focus which is biased towards the tourism sector. Daniel is also working with Magamba Network on their project called Open Parliament where they do live coverage of Parliamentary activities on Twitter and Facebook. He is currently the secretary general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum, is a member of Zimbabwe Small Broadcasters Association. He holds a Diploma in Communication and Journalism from the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA), a certificate in Youth leadership training from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a certificate in Citizen Journalism from Magamba Network and is currently a first-year student at Zimbabwe Open University studying for a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Ethics and Organisational Leadership.

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