Zimbabwe watchdog to enforce price controls

HARARE, Nov 9, 2006 (AFP) – The Zimbabwean government is to establish an official commission to monitor prices and incomes in the latest attempt to stall skyrocketing inflation, a government minister said Thursday. “We are hopeful that the (incomes and pricing) commission will be in place soon,” Industry and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu told AFP.

“The commission will be an independent body which will look at a whole range of issues affecting price adjustments which are driving inflation and see whether incomes are commensurate with the price increase.

“The commission will also look at profiteering but not profiteering exclusively but also interrogate reasons proferred by businesses to justify price movements.”

Zimbabwe’s economy has been on a downturn in the last five years characterised by runaway inflation which stood at 1,023.3 percent in September and perennial shortages of basic commodities such as cooking oil, fuel and the staple cornmeal.

The government slashed three zeroes from its currency back in August but the move failed to put the breaks on the inflation rate.

President Robert Mugabe’s government first introduced price controls for selected goods four years ago to snuff