The Zimbabwean government has made desperate measures to fix the current shortages of basic commodities by lifting the ban on imports , allowing companies and individuals to import goods short of supply.
Government have conceded to demands by Zanu PF, to allow importation of goods to ease shortage of commodities which they made in a statement two weeks ago, following a wave of price increases and panic-buying which was triggered by the RBZ mid-term monetary statement by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube.
The amendment of the statutory instrument is to allow companies and individuals with offshore and free funds to import specified basic commodities that are short of supply in the country which is a result of panic buying caused by the infamous monetary policy and measures introduced by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube on the 1 October 2018.
The decision to amend the section SI122 of the constitution was announced by Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services (IPBS) Monica Mutsvangwa following the cabinet’s decision.
‘’Cabinet further observed that owing to panic and speculative buying, products which used to be sold over a month are now, being sold in just a three hours’ time, a situation which is completely unsustainable. Accordingly as a way to move forward, Cabinet resolved as follows; that the minister of Industry and Commerce temporarily amends SI122 of 2017 to allow both companies and individuals with offshore and free funds to import specified basic commodities currently in short supply pending the return to normalcy in buying patterns of the public and adequate restocking by manufacturers,” said Mutsvangwa.
‘’ Cabinet also resolved that the government through the RBZ, should support the productive sector through foreign currency allocation to ensure that they adequately stock up for the forthcoming festive season; that more resources be channeled towards primary production, particularly agriculture, with focus on soya beans and wheat; that efforts to be taken to improve logistics for fuel supply. Related to the foregoing, government,” commented Mutsvangwa.
Commodities that can now be imported are animal oils and fats (tallow, lard and dripping), backed beans, body creams, bottled water, cement, cereals, cheese, coffee creams, cooking oil, crude oil, crude soya bean oil, fertilizer, finished steel roofing sheet, wheat flour, packaging materials, wheel barrows, agro-chemicals and stock feeds.
Mutsvangwa said that ‘’ the continuing increase in prices effectively push the commodities beyond the reach of many of our people,” which has had a ripple effect on destabilizing many sectors of the economy as doctors and teachers are now demanding payment of salaries in foreign currency as a way to cushion themselves to the increase in prices for basic commodities.
President of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Sifelani Jabangwe said that the decision made by the government was sabotaging the local industry as individuals would now have access to cheap imported goods and lead to company closures and jobs losses.
“We believe that this is not the appropriate action because it will affect business adversely if goods were to come in and start taking away demand from local industry. I think as you are aware, as CZI, you have not heard us talk about company closures for the past two years or retrenchments, but you could actually find that it starts again,” Jabangwe said.
Ncube said the suspension of parts of SI 122 would increase the supply of goods in the market and force prices down. ”Opening momentarily should force supply to be increased and thus push prices down”. Ncube also commented that the government is concerned about Jobs but prices of goods and availability is of primary importance to the government.