Tanaka Mahanya and Elizabeth Andreya
Over the past few months, prices of all basic commodities have gone up.
The situation is harder for workers who have not received a salary rise, pensioners, the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed and the poor.
Relentless increases in the cost of basic commodities have further put a dent to consumers’ already dry pockets.
Businesses have suddenly increased cost of goods and services because of the assumption that the Government has also increased civil servants’ salaries.
Citizens are finding it difficult to cope with sky-rocketing prices which are forcing most of them to compromise on the quality and quantity of basic commodities.
In most instances, greedy traders are charging prices way too high.
Sharon Chihota, a Harare vendor, said the economic situation was straining families, as prices increase daily.
“Increases in food prices will continue to have a devastating impact on our economy and our lives as consumers. It is impossible to know just how long these increases will last and how long they are going to affect the economy. Hence, we need to be prepared to protect ourselves against these escalatingprice levels by engaging in farming and other activities.”
A farmer, Chioniso Chipumha said she had cushioned herself from increases by finding alternatives to bread.
Workers have resorted to carrying home-made food to work because they can no longer afford takeaways from as the prices have gone up 10-fold.
Chido, a council worker, said escalating prices have influenced her to wake up early in the morning to prepare her meals.
“I wake up at 4am every day to prepare my breakfast and lunch. There is usually no load-shedding around this time. In supermarkets, cooked rice and chicken is going for $35. I cannot afford that every day. I save a lot of money when I cook at home because I only carry three slices of bread and rice and beans for lunch.”
Due to the rising prices of meat, a lot of people now eat beans and kapenta as a protein supplement since this is cheaper, while some have resorted to fish sold at reasonable prices.
Because of prices that keep going up, consumers now buy groceries from tuckshops in town and Mbare as it is cheaper when using cash.
For example, a 2kg packet of rice costs $23 from a tuckshop for cash, while the same costs $32 or more depending on quality in supermarkets. Others have stopped buying rice opting for samp (manhuchu).
Two kilogrammes of washing powder costs $35 for cash at tuckshops with the same costing over $50 from chain stores.
Mai Makanaka of Glen View 7, Harare, said she has changed the type of food her children carry to school.
“My children used to eat cornflakes or Cerevita in the morning, and I would buy bread and polony to put in their lunch boxes. Now I just buy a loaf of bread which they eat before they go to school and put a few slices which they eat during lunch time,” she said.
Other families have stopped buying maize meal from supermarkets, opting to buy maize which they grind at lower cost.
For example, a 20kg bucket of maize costs $25 while grinding costs are $7.
The total cost comes to $27 for 20kg compared to a 10kg packet of maize meal which costs $66 in supermarkets.
Only a few children now get pocket money from their parents.
Gone are the days when children enjoyed pocket money during functions such as school and sports galas. Now they have to bear with their parents and enjoy home cooked food.
Residents in town are now getting most of thei food from rural areas. These include zviyo, maize meal, groundnuts, roundnuts and others.
In response to bread price hikes, in July this year, Government established community bakeries to increase the production of confectionery products., including bread, at affordable prices in rural areas.