The Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) would like to condemn in the strongest of terms the recent abnormal price hikes by most retailers in the wake of a National Lockdown that was announced by the Government that commenced on Monday the 30th March 2020. Nothing can justify this barbarism other than sheer recklessness and avaricious tendencies. As VISET, we call upon the Government to act and NOW to protect consumers! Clearly these retailers are taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to profiteer at the expense of the lives of the people.

The world over, the Covid-19 pandemic brought about a halt to fundamental operations be it economic, social and political. In Zimbabwe, the Informal Sector, accommodating over 90% of the population, remains the hardest hit. The world’s economic giants like the US, UK, France, Japan, China among others have already been affected negatively and these Governments have been forced to roll out social provisioning and social safety nets to help their citizens in this difficult epoch. However, the situation is comparatively different to Zimbabwe. Over the past decades, the country’s economy has been taking a nose dive and this resulted in unprecedented mushrooming of the informal economy. The recent soaring of prices of basic commodities have triggered countrywide concerns and fears about threats to food security, shaking the capabilities of the urban poor to adapt to the situation during the Covid-19 21 Days Lockdown.

Therefore, in times of adversities people in the informal economy are exposed to the harsh conditions that come with disasters. The majority of informal traders generally live on the basis of from hand to mouth. This means that the lockdown has actually worsened their livelihoods already jeopardized by a number of factors. To that end, unjustified price hikes means that informal trader have to face twin evils at once, that is poverty induced by reduced buying power and the ravaging COVID-19. Skyrocketing food prices can have devastating effect on the physical, mental, social and psychological state of poor informal sector players. Therefore, our position as an organization is that prices of basic commodities must fall to ensure that citizens abide by the dictates of the lockdown, otherwise at this rate our members will be left with no option but to disobey the directives coming from the Government and all its agencies. We further call upon the captains of industries to intervene and bring to book those who are wantonly hikes the prices of basic commodities. This is the time to be united as Zimbabweans and ensure that we fight COVID-19 from a united standpoint.

Source: Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET)