Basic commodities shortage and hoarding: We are our own worst enemies

by Tinotenda Mutasa

Over the past week or so, Zimbabweans have been thrown into panic mode, over reports of rising prices and shortages of basic commodities, with some naysayers going as far as claiming that supermarket shelves were now predominantly empty. A snap survey conducted in local shops revealed a worrying trend whereby people could be seen hoarding commodities such as cooking oil and even fuel.

As reports emerged that some unscrupulous individuals were hoarding fuel for resell in neighbouring countries at a profit, it became apparent that the so called shortages were man-made for the benefit of those who seek to make a quick dollar, and Zimbabweans fell prey.

The old con of social media messages claiming dire imminent shortages of basic commodities seems to always work on unsuspecting Zimbabweans, who logically, should be wiser by now. The intention of these messages is obviously to create or manufacture a sense of panic which results in panic buying and hoarding and bingo, supermarkets and other retail outlets hike prices with absolutely no justification, taking advantage of the stampede.

Zimbabweans need to take a breather and analyse the source and intended effect of such messages purporting to warn them of looming shortages. Who benefits the most? In a picture doing rounds on social media, some individuals were captured loading barrels of diesel into a petrol car. Instead of questioning the destination of the fuel, most probably reacted in panic and took it as a sign that there are worsening fuel shortages, instead of appreciating the greater danger of criminals hoarding the commodity for speculative purposes.

No economic reasons or justification has been provided so far by either the retailers or producers for the rise in prices or decrease in commodities and all Zimbabweans have been exposed to political rhetoric from some quarters who believe the so-called crisis is a sign from God. What Zimbabweans need to do is to then take a moment and appreciate how we have become our own worst enemies by perpetuating the same situation which we seek to avoid.

What some pessimistic Zimbabweans fail to understand is that they are their own enemies. Their negative mentality and lack of confidence on Government policies is largely to blame for the poor performance of the economy.

That negative mentality is breeding the speculative behaviour that is fuelling the predatory behaviour of black market dealers who are quick to hoard basic commodities and stash foreign currency for their nicodemous dealings.

No matter how good or sound the Government interventions are, they are quickly dented by the negative mentality and the equally band wagon mentality of most Zimbabweans who are quick to dismiss Government interventions such as the monetary policy before giving them a chance.

In other countries citizens are driven by a positive aura to make their countries better. They have confidence in their Government and are so consistently patriotic to work for the betterment of their economy. But in Zimbabwe people shockingly celebrate negative developments in the economy. More morbid are opposition leaders and their supporters who gleefully celebrate tragic developments like the outbreak of cholera or the artificial shortage of goods in the market.

With this defeatist behaviour, the country will not prosper. All good programmes are sabotaged in order to massage the doomsday narrative of negative minded opposition supporters. These doomsday cabalists are unwitting economic saboteurs who stand ready to do everything in their power to prove that the current Government cannot do anything to improve the economy.