January 5, 2018 Headlines, Top Stories
Parents and their children buy school uniforms in Bulawayo yesterday
Nyaradzo Bakari, Chronicle Reporter
PARENTS in Bulawayo have blasted retailers over escalating prices of school uniforms and stationery ahead of the opening of schools on Tuesday next week.
A survey done by The Chronicle in the city yesterday showed that most retailers have been steadily increasing prices of uniforms and stationery in recent weeks.
Retailers have blamed manufacturers for increasing prices and the manufacturers have in turn accused retailers of profiteering, saying they have not increased prices.
Scores of parents said they had resorted to buying most requirements from vendors as their prices were, in some cases, half what registered retailers were charging.
For other things that could not be readily sourced from vendors, winding queues were the order of the day as retailers cashed in on desperate customers.
The development comes at a time when the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has banned schools from forcing parents to buy school uniforms from them.
Residents said the unreasonable prices were disadvantaging them, especially those with children going for Early Childhood Development (ECD), Grade One, Form One and Lower Six. Some had to return home without the required full uniforms’ list as the prices did not suit their budget.
“As parents we are very worried about these prices. My child is going for Form One and I have already spent close to $100 on uniforms alone and now I have to borrow money from someone to buy stationery and pay school fees. I think these retailers are very inconsiderate, they want to make profits by cheating people like this. This is very frustrating, I spent the whole day trying to compare prices but they are just the same, said Mrs Fezile Moyo.
“I was very excited that my first child is going for ECD but I was very disappointed when I got to these shops as I had to spend more than $65 on one pair of his full uniform. I think it’s high time Government acts on these unjustified price hikes,” said Mr Kudakwashe Zhonga.
Some parents said they have resorted to buying from street vendors who sell products like stockings at low prices while some are engaging individual tailors who sell school uniforms at reasonable prices.
A pair of stockings in a retail shop costs $4 while vendors are selling theirs at $2. Books are going for a $0.79 at retail shops but vendors are selling them for $0.50.
A full set of uniform for a Grade One pupil costs an average of $135.
School shoes now cost $20 up from $16, a satchel $20 up from $11, shirt and short $28 from $14 (dress $18 up from $15), blazer $45 up from $30, hat $11 up from $6, socks $4 up from $3 and tie $9 up from $5.
A set of uniform for a child enrolling for Form One costs an average of $140 for boys and $130 for girls.
The shirt and short now cost $25 up from $18, (dress $24 up from $18), jersey $22 up from $15, ankle socks $3, (boys socks $4 up from $3) shoes $21 up from $16, satchel $20 up from $11 and tie $9 up from $5.
Three quire counter books have shot up from $2 to $6 while four quire ones are now $9.
Toppers Managing Director Mr Mohamed Zak Patel said they increased prices due to an increase in raw materials’ prices.
“Our prices went up in October due to an increase in raw materials’ costs,” he said.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) Matabeleland Chapter president Mr Joseph Gunda they are still investigating the issue.
“Investigations are underway but as far as I am concerned, we as manufacturers have not hiked our prices,” he said.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Mr Denford Mutashu said the hikes were a manipulation of consumers.
“In as much as there are challenges like foreign currency, I think there is serious manipulation by retailers. I have never in my life come across a counter book that costs $9. January is a term where schools are changing uniforms and some children changing schools, so this has been a burden and will continue being a burden as long as prices continue escalating. Sanity should prevail. We really understand and sympathise with manufacturers and retailers that are importing material but the rate at which prices shot up is unreasonable,” said Mr Mutashu.
“We are in the process of engaging relevant authorities to come up with a much effective economic, social and political solution. It’s an economic problem but it also affects the social life and politics.
The other problem is that there has been an emergence of “fly by night” businesses that are not even registered. They are the ones contributing to this lawlessness.”
Association for Businesses in Zimbabwe (ABUZ) chairperson Mr Victor Nyoni said: “We have talked to some businesses and the response is that they are obtaining foreign currency from the black market and to them it’s about the replacement issue. The Government should assist these companies to pay for their foreign imports so that the prices will go back to normal levels. If foreign currency is availed to them then we are sure the situation will normalise.”
Last month President Emmerson Mnangagwa condemned unjustified price hikes by some businesses.—@NyarieBakie