The move by Government, through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to stabilise the interbank exchange rate through a US$500 million draw down facility is laudable.
The facility starts being drawn down today.
Suffice to say, the facility raised from international banks should have a positive spiral effect to every aspect of our economy, including stabilising prices of basic goods, commodities and services.
The facility comes at a time when Government and industry have resolved to work together for the good of the country, setting the tenor for responsible business practice.
That industry on its part, has pledged to come up with an urgent action plan on price stabilisation means, if executed and implemented in good faith by both Government and industry, the facility will go a long way in thwarting the brazen price madness in the country. The consumer, who has been on the receiving end of the pricing madness has begun to show fatigue and restlessness.
The intervention by Government is therefore timely. The ordinary consumer’s pocket has been squeezed dry by the price madness and as many basic goods are now beyond the reach of many. The consumer has been milked beyond redemption.
Most interesting is the fact that on Friday, business membership organisations including representatives of industry, agriculture, mining, banking and the retail sector, agreed that the challenges being experienced in the economy can be directly linked to foreign currency availability and pricing distortions.
Government and business therefore committed to developing standards of disciplined behaviour that would be adopted by a tripartite of Government, business and labour in order to achieve economic growth and stability.
There is need to pay attention especially to 14 key basic commodities among them bread, flour, sugar, cooking oil, mealie-meal and salt as these are critical for decent living.
If the facility is to be useful Government should come up with stringent monitoring, implementation and evaluation of draw down process and subsequent use as the consumers are presently being squeezed by skyrocketing prices of basic goods, and Government believes the prices are unjustified. Belief alone is not enough, but serious intervention and monitoring as well as prosecution of the culprits, will certainly put this madness to an end.
Whichever business will benefit from this facility should be strictly monitored and audited to the last cent.
While the Government should, ordinarily have no business in controlling prices, but the greatest part of our consumers now really think the business sector is abusing this goodwill.
The suffering consumers are now blaming Government for failing to control prices, yet it is against international best business practice for governments to directly control prices.
Business must understand this and play its part. Those who get money from this facility and channel it elsewhere must have no place in our society. They are enemies if the people. They are enemies of the State. They are enemies of the Government.
The time to deal with the price madness is now. The Time for business to play ball is now and the time for business to tow the national line is now. The time to spot profiteering is now. The time to do good business is now. Yes, the time to rebuild our country and serve our people is now, not tomorrow. Let us all be responsible for a Zimbabwe where both people and business enjoy their life, through a fair pricing regime.
The past few months have seen how business and industry can destroy its own country through out-pricing consumers.
We should all start with short term stabilisation measures, migrating slowly to mid-term then long term business solutions.
In the process, we should develop a transparent and effective pricing mechanism, calculated on the good in question and its spiral effect to other products.
We are not a bad people, but for one reason or another we seem to be taking a trajectory of poor business practice premised on brazen profiteering.