social media to blame for the recent price hikes in Zimbabwe?
Many people, the government included have put the blame to social media for the recent price hikes that rocked the country recently. But can we really blame social media for the recent price hikes in Zimbabwe? If exaggeration is a crime, then yes I say we really have to blame social media for the price hikes, if not then no. Personally I am aware that social media was for some days ago flooded with snapshots of commodities and commonly cooking oil with tags of wildly high prices which were somehow unbelievable.
I think the effect of this practice was not so positive for if you are in business you couldn't just ignore the messages especially given that some of the staff posted on social media end up being proven true by time. So the messages I assume they made most retailers and consumers to take precaution measures. Retailers responded either by raising the prices or withholding certain commodities by removing them from the shelves, while consumers responded by buying as much as they could regardless of the prices. Everyone was frantic.
While most social media users are held accountable and to blame for such practises it is important to note that in Zimbabwe these days, social media users can make a joke of almost everything no matter how serious the issue is, ignoring the possible consequences of such actions. People joke about Life and death, trivial and non-trivial issues. The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe is said to have carried a survey during the time that prices were reported to be out of control on social media. The CCZ found out that the prices were not even as high as they were reported to be on social media.
Speaking in Parliament on the 9th of September 2018, Former Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Obendigwa Mguni blamed social media for the recent madness in prices saying that some people against the current government and some due to ignorance are using social media to destabilize the markets. He went on to say it is time that a strong Cyber Security Bill is brought in order to deal with such practises.
Somehow, I do agree with him and recently have seen and heard of an outbreak of defamatory suing in Zimbabwe. For example, “this” individual is suing ‘that’ individual for ill speaking against them. I do not want to mention the cases now. So is social media defaming the government? I don’t know but I think the government thinks so.
While I conclude by exempting social media for directly influencing price hikes in Zimbabwe, I stand blaming it for insinuating panic-buying and withholding of basic commodities. People, I encourage you; do not base your decisions on hearsay and what is shared on social media. Look, right now someone is stocking cooking oil bought for $10+ and yet the prices have since dropped to $3, what a loss.