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By Tendai Kamhungira

The ruling Zanu PF party has set up an ad-hoc committee led by Vice President General Constantino Chiwenga (retired) to deal with the thorny issue of skyrocketing prices.

Vice President General Constantino Chiwenga (Picture by © AFP/Wilfred Kajese)Vice President General Constantino Chiwenga (Picture by © AFP/Wilfred Kajese)

The party’s spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said the committee, whose other members were not revealed to the media, will find ways on how to deal with the continued price increases.

“Politburo discussed the issue of rampant price increases in the country and has identified various strategies to curtail this phenomenon,” said Khaya Moyo, speaking to journalists at the Zanu PF headquarters on the sidelines of the party’s politburo meeting on Wednesday.

“During discussions, His Excellency, the president and first secretary of Zanu PF Cde ED Mnangagwa warned economic saboteurs that their days were numbered. The party is aware of those who want to cause confusion and inflict economic pain on our people”.

Khaya Moyo said the issue of the three-tier pricing system was also discussed and measures will be announced in due course to curb the practice.

“A politburo ad-hoc committee has been put in place to deal with these issues decisively and will be chaired by the vice president and second secretary, retired general Constantino Guveya Chiwenga,” Khaya Moyo said.

Chiwenga doubles up as the Defence minister.

He successfully led the military intervention mid November that forced former president Robert Mugabe to resign.

The high prices of basic commodities resulted in thousands of consumers enduring a bleak Christmas last year.

This was despite the fall of foreign currency rates on the parallel market which manufacturers and retailers have previously cited as the main drivers of the price escalations.

There are fears that Zimbabwe could easily slip into another hyperinflationary crisis reminiscent of the 2007/08 period when soaring inflation obliterated the Zimbabwe dollar along with its pensions and savings.

To escape hyperinflation which had topped out at 500 billion percent, the country was forced to adopt the United States dollar in 2009, along with a basket of other currencies that include the British pound and the South African rand.

But the relative financial stability of the last eight years has unravelled in the last few months as acute foreign exchange shortages have led to sharp price increases.

Zimbabwe has been experiencing economic meltdown over the past few years, which has been exacerbated by the shortage of cash and foreign currency in general.

This further resulted in government introducing Statutory Instrument (SI) 64 of 2016 in a bid to protect vulnerable firms.

However, this did not achieve much, as there are no producing firms running viably at the moment.

Moyo yesterday also underscored that Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha had removed at least 14 items from SI64.

“Secretary for indigenisation and economic affairs Cde Mike Bimha reported that there were sudden price increases last year which picked up around September 2017. Social media of course also contributed to the problem through falsehoods on the subject. This resulted in retailers randomly increasing their prices. There is need for increased production and capacity utilisation. There is also need for retooling and new investment in the country.

“Cde Bimha also stated that 14 items were removed from the list of Statutory Instrument 64, these include milk, cooking oil, rice, meat and soap, amongst others. This was to allow people to import these goods on their own at a cheaper price,” Khaya Moyo said.

He said Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri had also briefed the politburo on the state of the country’s agriculture.

The politburo was briefed that the country has suffered shortages of top dressing fertiliser as a result of foreign currency shortages.

Of the projected 290 hectares under the Command Agriculture, it was reported that only 235 hectares were cultivated.

Khaya Moyo also told the media that Mnangagwa also took the opportunity to introduce new members to the politburo, appointed recently in various positions.

These are Chiwenga, Vice President Kembo Mohadi; retired lieutenant general Engelbert Rugeje (secretary of the commissariat); Lovemore Matuke (secretary for national security); Paul Mangwana (secretary for legal affairs); July Moyo (secretary for transport); Mabel Chinomona (women’s affairs); Pupurai Togarepi (youth affairs); Christopher Mutsvangwa (science and technology); Victor Matemadanda (war veterans) and committee members, Shiri, Sibusiso Moyo and Munyaradzi Machacha.

Cognisant of the divisions that consumed the party over the past few years, Rugeje is also said to have urged members of the party to shun factionalism and stop the use of hate speech. Daily News