100% uniforms price hike kills back-to-school hype

The Chronicle

Patrick Chitumba/ Lumbidzani Dima, Chronicle Reporters

SOME retailers have raised prices of school uniforms and other school items claiming manufacturers hiked prices by up to 100 percent, dampening the back-to-school preparations by parents and guardians.

Most parents buying school uniforms and stationery for their children ahead of the opening of schools tomorrow said they were surprised to find prices had gone up.

Uniforms are mostly sold in foreign currency while stationery from big retailers such as Pick n Pay and OK supermarkets is sold in the local currency.

Unfortunately, the big shops don’t have a wide range of school uniforms which are now available in sprouting clothing shops.

The clothing shops have hiked the price of school uniforms by over 100 percent as some trousers that were earlier pegged at US$7 now cost US$15.

A shirt for secondary school girls is going for between US$18-US$22, a neck tie between US$5 and US$7.

Some parents were forced to buy uniforms and stationery from vendors selling from pavements.

A Chronicle news crew caught up with Mrs Naledi Mathambo when she was with her husband buying uniforms for their two primary school children at Lobengula Street vending bays in Bulawayo’s city centre.

“As a Zimbabwean I now know that prices in Zim dollar always go up almost on a daily basis.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa

Therefore, price hikes are no longer a shocker, the only problem is that people continue to earn RTGs then have to carry the burden of buying forex,” said Mrs Mathambo.

She said the holidays were short and packed at the same time which made people relax.

“This holiday was short, we are used to schools opening for the second term even on May 14 or 15 thereabout, not soon after the Trade Fair.

We were relaxing thinking that there is still time then boom, Tuesday schools are opening!” said Mrs Mathambo.

Another parent Ms Sithembile Ndlovu said her daughter learns at a boarding school, and everything had to be ready by yesterday which made them rush around trying to sort it all.

“I do not know if this holiday was short or we had gotten used to Covid-19 delaying reopening of schools, but we failed to get ready on time.

Some of us had to wait for month-end to pay our children’s school fees, only to find out on month-end which was on Friday that I had to pay fees and buy groceries, winter uniforms and stationery in two days because the child is travelling back to school on Monday (today),” she said.

In Gweru some parents urged Government to rein in retailers whom they are accusing of profiteering.

“Schools closed for less than a month and we now want to prepare for back to school and the prices of commodities have gone up.

I have a child going for Form 5 and the prices are shocking to say the least.

“A pair of trousers is going for US$12, shoes US$25, a blazer US$75 which I find very absurd,” said Mrs Marian Ncube from Mkoba 6 suburb.

Mr Clemency Tigere said he was forced to go to tailors who have also sprouted in town but said the price difference is also not that huge.

“With the backyard tailors one can negotiate.

I bought a shirt for US$18 imagine. I earn in local currency and I am forced to go to the black market to buy the United States dollars they want.

I have three children in secondary school, and I am a civil servant. I need at least 20 000 RTGS per child for fees and over US$150 for school uniforms, grocery and stationery. It is really hard for me,” he said.

While some parents cried foul, it was brisk business for the street vendors as some parents found solace as the street prices are negotiable.

“I deal in school shoes which I import from South Africa and this time when parents are struggling with back to school is when I make money.

In shops shoes are around US$25 but I give them at US$15 or less. I also have stationery with ball point pens going for US$1 for 4,” said a vendor on condition of anonymity.

The spokesperson in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mr Taungana Ndoro

The spokesperson in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mr Taungana Ndoro said all protocols for the safe reopening of schools are in place.

“All Covid-19 protocols for the safe reopening of schools remain in place as we anticipate the second phase of the vaccination blitz by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

Parents and guardians are advised to prepare their children for returning to school next week so that we contribute to the socio-economic development of the nation,” he said.

The second term is opening 26 days after schools closed on April 7 and will run for 69 days until August 4.

In January, the Government came up with a school calendar with 184 learning days following a long break from classes in 2021 owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw many outbreaks being reported in schools.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, on Tuesday said learning institutions will open tomorrow as scheduled, under strict compliance with Covid-19 prevention and management protocols to ensure a safe environment for learners.

Speaking during a post-Cabinet Briefing Minister Mutsvangwa said the country has been registering a continued decline in Covid-19 cases due to the policies put in place by Government and the compliance by citizens, making the reopening of schools on time possible.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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