As Zimbabwe’s 21-day lockdown ticks closer long queues are characterising entrances of banks and retail shops across the country.
The Southern African country goes into a full lockdown on Monday as President Emmerson Mnagangwa’s Government moves to contain the coronavirus.
Zimbabwe has so far recorded seven Covid-19 positive cases.
In announcing the lockdown on Friday President Mnangagwa highlighted that essential services as well as producers and retailers of essential goods will continue to be open.
However, that assurance did not stop people from swarming retail shops in search of basic commodities.
“Better be safe than sorry,” said Marilyn Kambarami who was queuing up at N Richards Wholesalers, 11 kilometers away from the Harare CBD.
“Yes the President said the grocery shops will be open but there is no guarantee that some essential products will continue to be available. Already we hear that shops are limiting quantities that one can purchase.
“Besides it will not be easy for one to commute during the lockdown.”
At a supermarket in Belvedere, Harare a 2 litre bottle of cooking oil saw its price rising from ZWL$150 to ZWL$280 inside an hour.
Shop attendants told ZTN that they had been instructed to increase prices because “this shop is probably the only one with cooking oil in Harare.”
Our correspondents in Bulawayo say customers are also running around, desperately trying to stock up ahead of the lockdown.
Reports of arbitrary price hikes are also emanating from cities such as Masvingo and Gweru.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Denford Mutashu revealed that they are pushing for a freeze in price increases during the lockdown.
“We know there are some unscrupulous retailers who are out to make a killing at this hour of need,” he said.
“CZR as the retailers’ representative body is adopting this critical and necessary intervention by the executive in its entirety. Coronavirus/Covid-19 has proven to be not just a national threat but global pandemic and it remains critical for business and retailers in particular have a role to play in this fight.
“As part of measures being proposed by CZR, each retail outlet, in the spirit of responsibility, is encouraged to make a donation towards the Covid-19 facility aimed at supporting the health sector to cope with the emergency.
“In addition, basic commodity price increases are frozen. This is our sector’s support measure to Zimbabweans who have to date supported our businesses through good and hard times,” added Mutashu.
In announcing the lockdown President Mnangagwa revealed that medical facilities are being further capacitated so that they are in a position to deliver on their mandate.
“To ensure that our hospitals are not overwhelmed and that other normal hospital services are not compromised, more separate treatment and isolation units and facilities will be established either at hospitals or on other identified centres, whether public or private, as directed by the Minister of Health and Child Care. To expedite testing diagnostic services, Government will decentralise Covid-19 testing to provincial hubs throughout the country,” he said.