Shops cut working hours amid crisis

The country’s economy continues in turbulence with some retail outlets now reducing business hours while the fuel situation is deteriorating with diesel, which is the engine of industry, in short supply.

BY Everson Mushava/Tafadzwa Mutacha

This is despite government’s continued call for citizens not to panic; amid promises to resolve the crisis triggered by an acute shortage of foreign currency and new fiscal and monetary measures that separated bank accounts for US dollar and RTGS and introduced the 2 % tax on electronic transactions.

NewsDay Weekender observed that some retail outlets now open two hours late and close two hours earlier than the usual business hours.

Most OK Zimbabwe supermarkets in the high density suburbs, whose prices remained reasonable compared to their competitors, were now using a small entrance and customers were made to queue outside and allowed to enter in batches of 20.

OK Zimbabwe commercial director Albert Katsande said the unprecedented panic buying depleted stocks and they decided to reduce working hours until they manage to restock.

“We will revert to normal trading hours once we have fully restocked the stores,” Katsande said.

He said the supermarket resorted to queuing outside as a crowd control measure to avoid a situation where customers stampede for certain goods.

NewsDay also observed that prices of commodities continued to rise while most service stations were also without fuel yesterday, particularly diesel, with kombis spending the better part of the day in long queues.

This was despite assurance by Energy minister Joram Gumbo on Wednesday that the situation was stabilising.
Government yesterday said it was alive to the challenges the country was facing.

“I am in the studio right now with the Minister of Finance and we are not denying challenges,” Ndavaningi Mangwana, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Publicity said on Thursday.

Ncube on Tuesday said government had no control over the spiralling parallel market rates of the US dollar which had triggered a wave of price hikes.

But Zimbabwe Cross Border Traders Association president, Killer Zivhu, said multitudes of Zimbabweans were suffering as a result of exorbitant parallel market rates which have resulted in workers demanding salary increments.

“The exchange rates are really affecting the market right now. Three quarters of the population is not employed and they are also being affected by these rates because other shops are now demanding US dollars and rejecting EcoCash and swipe,” Zivhu said.

He said the US dollar parallel market rates were being fuelled by foreign business owners charging higher prices for goods and then purchase US dollar on the market and repatriate profits back home where they would have acquired the goods using their local currencies.

Zivhu said the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority should increase check points at borders to reduce smuggling and ask people to reveal their sources of foreign currency if declaring goods worth more than $200 in order to deal with the parallel market.