MEMBERS of the public must work with the government to quash the rampaging black market and report speculators who are devaluing the bond note, a cabinet minister has said.
Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Sithembiso Nyoni claimed saboteurs were fueling the black market, which deliberately derails government’s efforts to stabilise the economy.
Responding to questions on the current economic situation at a meeting with SMEs in Bulawayo Thursday, the minister urged people not to fuel the black market but refuse to pay inflated prices set by retailers.
“It is not government, it is the people who are among us who fuel the parallel market. If you don’t agree with a policy, you deliberately want to fix the government in the parallel market but you must challenge that policy. Instead saboteurs who after hearing the policy measures, rushed to the parallel market, osiphatheleni,” she said.
Nyoni insisted government had pegged the rate of the US dollar and the Bond note at par but the public acted in the contrary.
“Shops will charge separate prices – $5 in US dollars and $40 in bond notes but then you the people pay the inflated price. Government is supporting you but you oppose government and support the parallel market. What can we do as the government?” she asked.
The minister urged citizens to rather work with government and not aid those who sabotage the economy.
“Don’t sabotage government, we are not perfect but we now use economic and politics to fix each other. This should be over, we need politics of dialogue, economics of engagement and economics of dialogue. The government is doing its best and we must also do our best,” she pleaded.
“President Emmerson Mnangagwa moved and connected us to others countries, he chose new ministers to drive the country in the right path. The new finance minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube is a renowned economist and he is well connected. In that vein, the president sent him to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to negotiate,” she said.
Nyoni revealed that she was appointed acting Minister of Finance in Prof Ncube’s absence and this was when the recent monetary policy was announced.
She said the measures in the monetary policy were announced locally so that the Finance Minister could use them while negotiating in his meetings overseas and such actions occurred in the face of meetings that had gone well where Ncube was negotiating.
The attendees bombarded Minister Nyoni with questions and some said had even reported pharmacies for astronomically increasing their prices.
“My neighbour went to buy medicine at a pharmacy for $20 the previous week but when she went the next week, the price had gone up to $430. She rushed to the police station to report the incident but police said they can do nothing,” said one participant.
The minister advised public to report any retailer who so increased prices to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, since it was the one which monitored prices.
“The ministry of industry should summon these people. Government also ruled that payments can be done either by Ecocash, swipe and cash. But if there are those who prefer cash only, they too must be reported to the Ministry of Finance,” she said.
Bulawayo Metropolitan Minister of State, Judith Ncube concurred that saboteurs were indeed destroying the market but went a step further to say the Economic and Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) also played a contributing role to what the market forces at play now.
“In 1990, ESAP was adopted as prescriptive solutions to Zimbabwe’s economic crises of the 1980s. It sounded as a good project but what we didn’t know was it would bring the country to its knees. We are now feeling the effects of that prescription that was prescribed to us. Now we blame Minister so and so only to find out it was costly,” she said.
The meeting was also attended by Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, Raj Modi and officials from the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development.