The price of a loaf of bread has increased from RTGS$1.80 to RGTS$3.50 – which is approximately 70 US cents, in a country where the average income is around US$4 a day.
Earlier this year – faced with acute shortages of US dollars – Zimbabwe introduced a new currency, called the Real Time Gross Settlement (RGTS) dollar. The RTGS has been losing value ever since, forcing companies to increase prices.
Bread is the most consumed staple after maize meal, which has also seen a rise in price to RTGS$11.85/10kg bag from RTGS$6.30.
Staples like cooking oil, sugar and milk have also been affected, however, salaries have largely remain unchanged.
50% price hike in flour
The escalation of the bread price comes after the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) increased the price of bakers’ flours by over 50%.
“We adjusted our prices … in line with the new producer prices announced by government,” said GMAZ spokesperson, Garikai Chaunza.
However, the move by the Bakers’ Association of Zimbabwe has been deemed ‘uncivil’ by the country’s government.
“The Minister of Industry and Commerce presented to Cabinet a letter by the Bakers’ Association of Zimbabwe, stating their intention to immediately hike the price of bread without any recourse to consultations with the Government as is the normal procedure,” Monica Mutsvangwa, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, told journalists.
She added the timing of the price increase – just days before the country’s national Independence celebrations – “whether by design or otherwise, certainly has the effect of dampening the mood of the nation.
“Furthermore, the unilateral action does not bode well to ongoing efforts by Government to engage in dialogue with all stakeholders, business included, with a view to creating a stable environment where businesses can compete and thrive.”
According to statistics agency Zimstats, year-on-year inflation raced to 66.8% in March, up from 59.39% the previous month.