By BLESSINGS MASHAYA

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

A LARGE cross-section of hard-pressed Zimbabweans is urging President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government to maintain policies that had brought about price stability when he delivers his State of the Nation Address (Sona) this afternoon before the august House.    

Speaking to the Daily News, consumers, workers and industry said it was critical for the government to rein in on the indiscipline and speculative tendencies that were now threatening to devalue the Zimbabwe dollar against the United States dollar on the parallel market. 

This comes as the local currency, which had been holding steady in recent months, has been under pressure from the greenback recently largely due to currency manipulators on the auction system and the black market. 

This movement on the parallel market is now causing the steady rise of prices of basic goods at a time when the majority of citizens’ incomes have remained stagnant.  

It also comes as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) in the last few days has blacklisted close to 80 individuals for using mobile money transfer platforms to mop up foreign currency on the black market. 

National Consumer Rights Association (Nacora) spokesperson Effie Ncube said Mnangagwa in his Sona must address the issue of cost of living which is going up. 

“The president must focus on solutions to cash and foreign currency shortages, poverty, hunger, unemployment and an economy that still has very weak fundamentals. The economy is still under performing. 

“Secondly, he must outline concrete and effective measures for dealing with corruption, externalisation of foreign currency and irregularities in the awarding of tenders.

“Thirdly, he has to outline a working plan on the stabilisation of prices which keep skyrocketing beyond the means of the majority. 

“Lastly, he must address the socioeconomic impact of Covid-19 and what the government is doing to minimise the pain.

“This also should extend to learners who are just beginning to catch up but examinations are already scheduled in the coming weeks,” Ncube said. 

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries CZI president Kurai Matsheza said Mnangagwa must address issues to do with power cuts and fuel price hikes. 

“Of late, electricity outage has been causing some problems. We are expecting the president to focus on this issue because this is slowing down production.

“As for fuel, we saw fuel prices have been adjusted and this move has a ripple effect on the economy and it can cause price instability, we are also expecting the president to address this issue. 

“We would want the president to focus on the upcoming agriculture season because a well-fed nation is a productive nation.

“The president must make sure that his government’s road rehabilitation efforts continue, they are doing a good job and this will help to grow our economy,” Matsheza said. 

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Peter Mutasa said workers’ salaries have been eroded and there is need for Mnangagwa to address the issue. 

“Cost of living, the biggest problem we face in this country is the mismatch between the pathetically low salaries and cost of goods and services.   

“Workers are earning useless salaries with a national minimum wage of $2 549 and an average wage of less than $12 000, this against a PDL of over $33 000 and a Consumer Council of Zimbabwe family basket of $48 000.  

“This is happening while prices are going up with a 2l bottle of cooking oil going for US$7, well beyond the reach of the majority of workers; this is an urgent matter the President is expected to address,” Mutasa said. 

This comes after a survey by Daily News crews showed that the prices of many basic consumer goods have gone up. 

Among the basic goods whose prices have increased markedly are flour, milk, washing soap, cooking oil, eggs, sugar and bread. 

All this comes after Vice President Constantino Chiwenga recently said the government will not show any mercy to individuals and companies caught up in parallel foreign currency activities. 

The powerful vice president vowed that by year-end, authorities would have decisively dealt with those responsible of arbitrage dealing in foreign currency. – Daily News