Zimbabwe’s economic crisis is inflicting pain on restive citizens who are likely to find this year’s Christmas and the New Year holidays subdued as they struggle to make ends meet.
Christmas, which is usually the most popular holiday celebrated locally, is known as the festive season.
But, with about five weeks to go, the worsening economic environment is making things difficult for most Zimbabweans.
Rather, the prices of basic commodities have gone up beyond the reach of many, meaning the cost of living is rising.
The government has promised its workers US$ bonuses.
But, several workers’ unions have said workers have been hit hard.
Apex Council deputy secretary-general Gibson Mushangu told Business Times that the pre-October 2018 salaries will mitigate the inflationary environment.
“We are happy that we are getting our bonuses in US$ but our current salaries will not allow us to enjoy the festive season. We are getting way less than the family basket which hovers to around ZWL$52,000 per month,” Mushangu said.
“We were scheduled to meet the government on salaries in October to call for an upward review but we couldn’t as most government officials were making budget submissions.”
He added: “However, with the current salaries, some parents will collapse early next year as the wages we are getting are insignificant to pay fees. From the lessons we learnt from the 2021 bonuses, the government is capable of paying salaries in US$ as we have always been saying and they can even start in January.”
The cost of living as measured by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe’s low income urban earner monthly basket for a family of six increased by 5.22% to ZWL$51 918.51 by end of October 2021 from the end of September figure of ZWL$49 343.81 due to inflation and festive mood fever by the retailers.
The food basket increased by ZWL$2238.90 or 12.36% to ZWL$20 350.79 by end of October 2021 from $18 111.89 by end of September 2021.
The price of detergents increased by ZWL$115.80 or 8.22% to ZWL$1524.72 from ZWL$1408.92.
“As CCZ, the increase in the total figure of the basket is attributed to the price increases shown above especially on the basic food items, due to inflation; influence of the exchange rate, speculation by consumers (fuelling demand towards the festive season) and in exceptional cases the parallel market,” CCZ said.
The consumer council said the further relaxation of the lockdown regulations has resulted in an increased movement of consumers, activities of the market place and change of consumer behaviour patterns emanating from the eroding of consumer buying power.
The market is slowly adjusting to the displaying of prices in both US$ and RTGS as provided for by the Statutory Instrument 185.
CCZ observed that most of the big supermarkets are complying with the Statutory Instrument 185.
“Therefore, we encourage consumers when they are buying in US$ to be knowledgeable of the prevailing weekly auction exchange rate to avoid being overcharged,” CCZ said.
“The CCZ continues to encourage consumers to shop conscientiously and to always buy certified products.”
The consumer council said where the products are not certified, consumers should exercise their right to information by carefully examining if the products they are purchasing are well labelled, packaged and provided with vital information which includes manufacturing, expiry dates and ingredients used in the make-up of the products. This survey is conducted every month.
The total cost of the food basket and the price of each commodity are arrived at by averaging prices gathered from retail outlets throughout the country.
The basket is a fairly accurate depiction of the cost of living in urban Zimbabwe. Business Times