By Enacy Mapakame and Elita Chikwati
Manufactures of basic commodities yesterday indicated they have not increased prices and attributed the current shortages as artificial and caused by speculators and unscrupulous businesspeople.Some basic commodities such as cooking oil and sugar are missing on shelves, with informal traders selling in foreign currency or charging exorbitant prices.
As of yesterday, retail outlets such as Pick n Pay, OK and Spar did not have cooking oil. Also in short supply in supermarkets was Mazoe juice brands. Most of the informal traders no longer accept EcoCash or swipe.
Some unscrupulous businesspeople were already selling a two-litre of cooking oil for high prices ranging between $10 and $15, while others were selling at US$10 per three bottles.
“There is a shortage which is a challenge from the suppliers’ side,” said Mr Mutashu.
“Suppliers are failing to meet demand and they cannot talk of prices of commodities that are not available on the market, we do not have product.
“A normal retailer would not increase the price of cooking oil like that. The problem also is people are panic buying because of speculation. The informal traders are now taking advantage of the situation to hike the prices to ridiculous levels.”
Mr Mutashu called on Government to open borders briefly to allow retailers to bring in basic goods and narrow the prevailing supply gap.
Oil Expressers Association of Zimbabwe president Mr Busisa Moyo yesterday said the industry had not increased the price of cooking oil and said the current shortages were due to low production as a result of inadequate supply of foreign currency from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
He said the situation could improve if the expressers got enough foreign currency allocations. “The prices have remained normal,” said Mr Moyo.
“The only challenge is that we have not been receiving enough foreign currency from the RBZ to keep up with the supplies.
“We last received allocations last week and the money differ as we operate as individuals. Once we get enough foreign currency, the situation will take us between three and five days to improve.”
Surface Wilmar yesterday said it had not increased the price of cooking oil. In statement, the firm said the shortages were being worsened by speculators.
“It has come to our attention that our cooking oil brand, Pure Drop, is being sold in some retail outlets at prices above the recommended retail price of $3,70,” said the firm.
“Please be advised that our price for cooking oil has not changed and the current shortages are being worsened by speculators bent on profiteering.”