Panicking Zimbabwean shoppers besiege supermarkets

Published: 19 January 2019
Hundreds of panicking shoppers yesterday thronged  supermarkets  and engaged in panic buying after some of the country's leading retailers opened their doors to the public following three days of closure due to a crippling national strike.

The retailers blamed the panic buying on the three-day stayaway which was due to end yesterday but continued as commuter omnibuses and several companies and banks failed to open for business.

"The three-day shutdown affected the public in terms of food stocks. There were some shops which opened but some are not yet open. The panic buying causes shops to deplete in a very short period of time…yet we do not have enough manufacturers.

"There were huge loses, many shops were looted. Choppies Group lost about nine shops and four were actually burnt. The government must come hard on the perpetrators of violence," fumed Denford Mutashu, the president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers.

Thousands of people who rely on supermarkets for daily shopping were stranded in Harare, Bulawayo and several towns following the mayhem which ensued after security forces clashed with protesters.

Big supermarkets and small traders were forced to temporarily suspend operations as some of the protesters embarked on a looting spree and destruction of properties.

In the capital city's central business district (CBD) yesterday hundreds of shoppers besieged the few supermarkets that opened their doors to the public and laid their hands on food and water – ostensibly to avoid being caught unawares – in the event that there were further disturbances.

Long queues stretched for nearly half-a-kilometre at some of the supermarkets which were guarded by armed soldiers.

However, it was not all hunky-dory as most shoppers endured frustrations with the erratic network systems which delayed payments at the tills. In some cases, swipe machines were not registering transactions.

This followed the much-criticised government decision to order mobile networks to suspend Internet services and all social media platforms in response to the riots which occurred during the strike.

Government restored Internet services on Wednesday evening but Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter remained suspended.

On Monday, thousands of workers gave thumps-up to the three-day national strike sanctioned by the Zimbabwe Congress Trade Unions (ZCTU) in protest of steep fuel prices hikes announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last Saturday.

The price hikes came as long-suffering ordinary Zimbabweans were still reeling from the effects of the unpopular two cents tax per every dollar transaction which was unveiled by government in October as part of its plans to raise revenue.

Besides the two cents per dollar translation tax, the disaffected Zimbabweans were further annoyed by government's decision to charge motor vehicle duty in United States dollars despite its insistence that the bond note was at par with the greenback.

As a result Mnangagwa and his government had been under pressure to repair the haemorrhaging economy which has seen the country experiencing shortages of foreign currency, fuel, critical medicines and basic consumer goods among other essential items.

Zimbabwe has remained in the throes of a mega economic crisis which was underlined by this week's crippling strike.
- dailynews
Tags: Supermarket,


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