With the cost of most commodities either shooting up daily or simply not available on the shelves, something really had to give.
Having banned the importation of a number of things to protect the local industry, the government was this week left with no choice but to rethink that decision as shelves were running empty.
For commodities that were available, they were way beyond the reach of many.
In any case, there really is no industry to talk about as the manufacturing sector is as good as dead.
I went into a few supermarkets this week, including the leading stores, Pick n Pay and Choppies, to gain a fresh appreciation of new prices and to buy a few things so I can get Mazoe Orange juice (gosh I miss the days when my biggest worry was the taste of Mazoe!). I must say the prices really were ridiculous.
Of course the retailers can justify their high prices – and understandably so because they buy their stock mainly from South Africa despite selling in what is now referred to as bollars (combination of bond notes and the US dollar) in street lingo.
The root cause of all the madness is that Zimbabwe has no sound economy let alone a currency to talk about.
But before I digress too far, let me explain what I meant by saying I needed to buy a few things so can I get Mazoe.
What is happening now in most shops is that you need to buy groceries worth more than $15 (P150) to be able to buy Mazoe or cooking oil which cost an average of $3 (P30) and $5 (P50) respectively.
These two commodities are not available on the shelves but rather are with the till operator, ready to give those in need but only after they purchase the minimum required $15 worth of items.
While it may seem outrageous that one has to buy other goods to get these commodities, I personally think it’s not a bad idea, especially in the current situation because many Zimbos seem to have developed a hoarding syndrome, which results in unnecessary shortages.
If we could just buy what we need I am sure some of the goods would not be in such serious short supply.
Anyway, the good news, at least for those with access to forex, is that the government on Tuesday made a major climb down and lifted the ban on importation of most commodities including cooking oil, cement, stockfeed, agrochemicals, juice blends, sugar, soap, salad creams among other things.
Allowing individuals and companies to import these goods and more, will ensure better availability and thus bring down prices as there will be less demand.
What this also effectively means is that the bond will eventually die a natural death. Who will want to sell in a currency that has no value beyond borders?
This also means that the government will surely have to come to its senses and officially scrap off the bond so people can be paid in real money – after all, it’s what makes the world go round and Zimbabwe is no different.