Zimbabwe consumer authority raises milk and other prices after shortages

HARARE, Oct 12, 2007 (AFP) – The Zimbabwean government authorised Friday new increases in the prices of basis foodstuffs in a bid to ease widespread shortages that followed an order for retailers to halve their tariffs. The National Incomes and Pricing Commission announced it had approved rises of between 50 percent and 200 percent for a range of staples including a bag of sugar which will now cost 255,232 Zimbabwe dollars, up from 84,000 dollars.

A packet of milk has been increased by 51.51 percent while retailers will also be able to raise the price of a bag of fertilizer by 82.39 percent to cost 893,714 dollars.

Supermarket shelves were left bare and shopowners have been battling to replenish their stocks since June when President Robert Mugabe’s government launched Operation Dzikisa (Reduced Prices), forcing shops and businesses to halve their prices.

Mugabe accused businesses of colluding with his foes in the West to push prices beyond the reach of many and ignite a popular revolt against his rule.

Although the price crackdown was initially welcomed since it enabled Zimbabweans to stock up on goods which had been beyond their budget, it led to widespread shortages with manufacturers unable to cov