By Alois Vinga
A LEADING consumer group says monthly expenses for a Zimbabwean family of six rose to $20 985 in the month of September 2020 amid reports of exchange rate violations by some unscrupulous retailers.
The cost of living as measured by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ)’s low income urban earner monthly basket for a family of six increased from the end of August figure of $14 438.23 to $20 985.01 by end-September 2020.
This was an increase of $6 546.78 or 45.34%.
CCZ reports that the food basket increased by $568.45 or 5.29% from $10 742.82 by end of August 2020 to $11 311.27 by end-September 2020.
“The spike increase in the total figure of the basket is attributed to the price adjustments shown above especially on the non-food items, due to inflation, influence of the exchange rate and in exceptional cases the parallel market,” the consumer rights lobby group said.
Among contributing factors towards the increase in the cost of living, CCZ observed that the market has not fully adjusted to the displaying of prices in both US dollars and RTGS as provided for by Statutory Instrument 185.
This is an emerging challenge which has since been raised by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the general public and in the worst scenarios, most retailers are pegging prices at exchange rates far much higher than the official rate set by the central bank on a weekly basis.
The price increases are despite the fact that both annual inflation has gone down from a high of 837% recorded in July this year to the current 659%, prompting the need for authorities to explore market discipline alternatives to curb a profiteering culture.
“Therefore, we encourage consumers when they are buying in US dollars to be knowledgeable of the prevailing weekly auction exchange rate to avoid being overcharged.
“The CCZ continues to encourage consumers to shop conscientiously and to always buy certified products,” said the consumer group.
CCZ further noted that the relaxation of the lockdown regulations has resulted in increased movement of consumers, activities of the marketplace and change of consumer behaviour patterns emanating from the eroding of consumer buying power.
The surveys are conducted every week with the total cost of the food basket and the price of each commodity arrived at by averaging prices gathered from retail outlets throughout the country.