Govt lifts ban on imports of groceries

HARARE - In a welcome development, the government has with immediate effect removed the ban on the importation of groceries and other basic goods — in a bid to address the continuing shortages of commodities and spiralling price hikes in the country.

The lifting of the ban comes at a time many Zimbabweans have been priced out of buying basic goods due to steep price hikes that have been blamed on the acute shortages of foreign currency in the country.

Addressing journalists in the capital yesterday, the ministers of Information and Finance — Monica Mutsvangwa and Mthuli Ncube respectively — said the decision had been taken with the interest of citizens in mind, and to curb rising prices and the shortages of basic goods in shops.

“Cabinet noted with concern that basic commodities continued to be in short supply despite increased production by suppliers, thereby reflecting persistent panic and speculative buying by members of the public.

“In addition, Cabinet also observed that owing to panic, products that used to be sold over a month are now being sold in three hours, which is completely unsustainable.

“As a way forward, Cabinet resolved that the minister of Industry and Commerce temporarily amends Statutory Instrument 112 of 2017, to allow individuals and companies with offshore funds and free funds to import basic commodities currently in short supply.

“This will be done pending the return to normalcy of buying patterns of the public and adequate restocking by manufacturers,” Mutsvangwa told journalists.

On his part, Ncube said the move was also aimed at pushing down prices and ensuring availability of basic consumer goods, as the country was approaching the festive season.

“All we are doing is increasing the supply of commodities … allow those with free funds, offshore funds to buy whatever they want to buy and bring it in. We did this in 2009 and it worked very well,”.

The Treasury chief also said industry was to blame for the government’s decision to remove the imports’ ban because of how it had conducted itself in the past few weeks.

“The issue of protecting industry, which is an infant industry argument, would also help if this same industry could also ensure prices don’t escalate the way they have done.

“We care about jobs but at the moment you will agree with me that the issue of price increases is what we want to deal with right now as we approach the festive season, to make sure there is enough supply of basic commodities at reasonable prices and that there is no wage pressure,” he said.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of a huge economic crisis which has seen the country slipping back to frightening levels similar to the disastrous 2008 hyper-inflationary era.

The country has been experiencing acute shortages of foreign currency, which in recent weeks have triggered shocking price hikes, shortages of essential medical drugs
and basic consumer goods.

Long forgotten fuel queues have also resurfaced, with most service stations failing to meet the demands of motorists and industry.

Both industry and retailers have blamed the illegal foreign currency trade for the spike in the prices of basic consumer goods, as well as the sharp rise in production costs.

Comments (2)

We wonder. When was Mphoko's ban lifted for all the merchantise he imported "Duty-Free" for his chain of Choppies Shops? We could see there were all SouthAfrican products

Is She refered to as Dr right now? - 24 October 2018

They had banned the products so that they in govt could make money, they have made money its no longer necessary. Appearing as if they care about us. I don't think this will change anything as long as you cant get forex in banks, chasing it on the black market, the goods that come in will remain very expensive as they are priced against the black market exchange rate.

Ballista - 25 October 2018

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