President sounds alarm over ‘plot’ by greedy retailers after price hikes spark Zimbabwe currency crisis
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa is ringing the alarm bells over soaring prices that he claims are part of a sinister plot by greedy retailers to sabotage his re-election hopes ahead of August elections.
Retailers have recently been jacking up prices to match the black market exchange rate, with the USD now fetching between $3,500 and $4,000 Zimbabwe dollars. As a result, basics like baked beans and mealie meal have become ridiculously expensive, fueling fears of a return to the dark days of hyperinflation in 2008.
Shelves are also looking increasingly bare as suppliers withhold key goods like cooking oil, sugar and rice – allegedly demanding USD instead of the struggling local currency.
In his weekly column, the president lashed out at “businesses betraying” government stabilization efforts made in “good faith.” He warned “political opponents disguising as company executives” seeking to “engineer market failures” will be treated as enemies, hinting at severe punishment.
The president accused retailers of deliberately disabling point-of-sale machines to force consumers pay in USD, saying such illegal practices suppressing legal tender currencies cannot go on. He threatened to impose “painful” measures, including requiring businesses to accept multi-currency transactions.
Experts warn basic products could soon disappear altogether as industry leaders hold muted talks with government. But activists say authorities should address inflation causes rather than symptoms, while workers’ unions demand robust steps to protect the poor.
Analysts note those suffering economic hardship are likely to vent their anger at the ballot box, potentially hurting Zanu PF’s chances though some argue the crisis mainly impacts urban areas while the ruling party’s rural strongholds are less impacted.