. . . Bakers urged to pursue dialogue
Nyengeterai Dingana, H-Metro Reporter
Government has ordered the Bakers Association of Zimbabwe to defer the hiking of bread prices saying the increment is ill timed and un-procedural.
The Bakers Association had increased the price of a loaf of bread from $1.80 to $3.50 per loaf.
However, cabinet yesterday said the unilateral action does not bode well with ongoing efforts by government to engage in dialogue before making decisions that affect society.
“The Minister of Industry and Commerce presented a letter by the Bakers Association of Zimbabwe, stating their intention to immediately hike the price of bread without any recourse to consultations with Government as is the normal procedure,” said Minister of Information, Monica Mutsvangwa, in a cabinet briefing yesterday.
“Of particular concern to cabinet is also the timing of the planned price increase, which is coming exactly two days before the National Independence Celebrations. Such a move, whether by design or otherwise, certainly has the effect of dampening the mood of the nation.”
She added that the move was in contrast to Government’s move to encourage dialogue to ensure there is a stable environment for business.
“It can be recalled that on 29 October 2018, His Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa met with business leaders at the State House where he stated that Government has an open door policy and stands ready for any engagement and consultations in order to ensure that the economy stabilizes.
“As such, unilateral price hikes, particularly of basic commodities that our people cannot do without is not in consonance with the spirit of mutual engagement Government is encouraging.
“Cabinet therefore calls on the Bakers Association of Zimbabwe to defer the planned hike in the price of bread in order to allow for the normal mutual consultations to take place. The consultations are aimed at facilitating a clearer understanding of the issues of concern and to explore solutions thereto, she concluded.
This year’s Easter holiday would have been an expensive one following the increase of bread prices.
Retailers Association of Zimbabwe president, Denford Mutashu said increases in prices of maize and wheat had contributed to the new prices.
“The Government increased prices for maize and wheat hence the millers had also responded by increasing flour prices to the bakers.
“For instance, a 50kg of flour increased from $55 to $83.
“Bakers then decided to increase the price of bread to the retail sector,” said Mutashu.
Mutashu also concurred that the sudden change of bread price increase came at a wrong time since the country will be celebrating Independence and Easter holidays.
“We are saddened by the situation and the challenge now is the timing which is very delicate since we have few days left before we celebrate Independence and Easter holidays.
“What we can recommend now is for the country to increase the number of players in the critical sector especially bread as well as other milling products because if there is more competition then they can lower their prices.
“We hope the Government will decentralise suppliers of basic commodities so that we do not entirely depend on Harare,” he said.