A GROUP of suspected war veterans launched a violent price control blitz targeting struggling food-manufacturing companies in Harare ahead of the forthcoming presidential run-off.
They are forcing manufacturers to reduce their prices below those set by the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC).
Their major targets are mostly bakeries and manufacturers of basic commodities.
Reports indicate that two groups of suspected war veterans moving in two different trucks have since last Thursday been visiting various food manufacturing companies forcing senior managers to slash prices.
So far the group has visited Natfoods, Blue Ribbon and a number of bakeries in the country. The government has been accusing businesses of raising their prices as part of a “regime change” agenda.
The war veterans clam that they have been asked to assist the NIPC in monitoring the prices. A senior official in the Zimbabwe Bakersâ€™ Association said a number of bakers have been forced to reduce their prices by war veterans.
“We have received reports of two groups of pseudo-NIPC officials forcing companies to slash prices and accusing them of regime change,” said the official.
“What is worrisome is that these people are not only ordering companies to reduce prices but they are also beating up workers who are questioning their motive and identity.”
The war veterans are telling business leaders that they have instructions from the “top” to make sure that the prices are slashed. The deputy chairman for the National Association of War Veterans, Joseph Chinotimba denied that war veterans were part of the group.
“We are not violent,” said Chinotimba.
“But I am warning these business people that we are planning to move in if they donâ€™t reduce their prices now. I am not joking. I am angered about these business people. We are coming for them. I am serious,” said Chinotimba.
NIPC chairman Godwills Masimirembwa said the commission had received reports of war veterans threatening businesses.
“We have heard that. A number of companies have phoned to tell us about that group,” said Masimirembwa.
“I must mention that we have not asked for help from anyone. What those people are doing is illegal and it must stop. Any company that is approached by these people must report to the police. Itâ€™s illegal.”
By Bernard Mpofu