By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
09 January 2014
Some parents have accused retailers of using the forthcoming new school term as an excuse to clandestinely increase prices of some basic commodities.
The new school year starts January 14th, and parents shopping for uniforms and basic scholastic items such as stationery say there has been an upward adjustment in the prices.
“Prices have increased. For example a counter book which cost less than $2 before Christmas now costs $4.99. All along the books were readily available but two days ago I noticed that they seem to be suddenly in short supply,” Magagisa told SW Radio Africa Thursday.
She said prices of basic items such as cooking oil went up hiked in the run-up to Christmas, and there is no indication that retailers will be adjusting them downwards.
“With food items, the increases range from $0.20 to about $1 and while some people may think this is a small margin, this adds up to a significant financial strain when we consider that many families are already unemployed and hard up,” Magagisa added.
A survey by Bulawayo-based correspondent Lionel Saungweme revealed that items such cooking oil, Coca-cola and laundry soap and school uniforms have also gone up.
Saungweme said this was likely to be the first round of increases to face residents as retailers traditionally raise prices the moment civil servants get a raise.
“This further squeezes unemployed Zimbabweans because retailers ignore the fact that not everyone is a civil servant,” Saungweme said.
He said parents whose children will be going to boarding school will need at least $320 for a term’s groceries, for one child, consisting of basics such as geisha bath soap, washing powder, lotion and sugar.
“That is before we factor in the cost of uniforms, which for a child attending Milton Primary School would cost around $200. For example a grey short costs $8, shirt $10, trousers $16, pair of socks $4, trunk $60, stationery $30, pair of shoes, and a satchel $10.
“Wages are generally around $200, and this means that most parents will find the year ahead very tough,” Saungweme added.
Taxi driver Kuda Gushungo said he feared that the worsening economic conditions will see an increase in incidences of theft and robberies.
“In the first half of last year I used to cash about $45 at the end of each day ferrying commuters but this has declined to about $10-$15.
“Things are worse for those with no jobs and now with more companies closing, there will be many unemployed people some may resort to stealing,” Kuda told SW radio Africa’s Simon Muchemwa.
Rentals have also gone up, and many people are being forced to seek alternative accommodation, according to Muchemwa.
“Some families who were renting in low/medium density suburbs are now moving to the high density areas because they can no longer afford the monthly $400 required,” Muchemwa added.