Zimbabwe's government yesterday threatened to close businesses that were defying the state order to halve prices and accused them of working to topple President Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe's government last week ordered a 50percent cut in the price of basic goods and services after prices shot up by as much as 300percent in a week. But retailers have largely resisted the order, and some products have disappeared from shop shelves.
The government, which has deployed a special unit to ensure compliance with the order, has arrested more than 20 business executives for not implementing the price cut.
Acting President Joseph Msika said yesterday shops and businesses not complying with the decree were "sell-outs" working with outside forces to destabilise the economy and topple Mugabe.
"We will not brook any attempts to thwart our efforts to correct this undesirable state of affairs. Some unscrupulous manufacturers have remained defiant and are creating artificial shortages of goods," Msika said.
Mugabe is facing the worst economic crisis since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980 with inflation at a yearly 4000percent and dire shortages of food, fuel and foreign exchange.
"We will not allow sell-outs, renegades and money mongers to interfere with our good way of life. You are warned to stop what you are doing ... do not distort our prices. Stop it or we will force you to close shop, or we will take over your factory," Msika said.
Last Wednesday Mugabe threatened to seize and nationalise foreign companies that have raised prices and cut output in what he said was a campaign to oust him from power.
Analysts said Mugabe's tough response to the worsening economic situation was aimed at pacifying an increasingly restive population grappling with the world's highest inflation rate, but it could further hurt the economy. - Reuters