Mozambique: Transport operators threaten to go on strike
Families in Maputo take less shopping home and are starting to change eating habits, such as leaving dinner food for breakfast the next day, without bread, due to rising prices in the country.
“I used to buy seven to eight kilos of sugar, but today I only bought five, I used to buy five dozen eggs, but today I only bought four,” a woman who agreed to identify herself only as Rainha told Lusa, packing plastic bags in her car from purchases she made at the Zimpeto wholesale market in Maputo.
In March, Rainha bought a box of 24 eggs for 250 meticais (€3.65), but today she had to pay 275 meticais (€4.00) for the same quantity.
“These increases change everything. When I do the shopping for the month,” said the woman, a civil servant, married and mother of two children.
The Mozambican woman does not doubt that if the price rises continue, “it will destroy families” because “there will be disagreements in the homes”.
Mussá Eusébio Bié waits in the car while his wife shops in Zimpeto, but he says that there are days when breakfast means left-overs from the previous day’s dinner because there isn’t enough money for bread.
“Life is very expensive, the shopping we used to do before, we don’t do now, everyone feels it, we use the food from the dinner to make a living”, says Bié, while he hands his wife more metical notes to reinforce the family budget.
Lourenço Macuácua, who sells potatoes and onions imported from South Africa, noted that the movement of customers has reduced in recent weeks, and business is going badly.
“A [10-kilo] bag of potatoes should be at 400 meticais (€5.80), but we sell at 360 meticais (€5.25) and 390 meticais (€6.00) because the customers cannot pay more because they are out of money,” Lourenço Macuácua said.
“In many agricultural fields in South Africa, they are not working. There are no people,” he noted.
With the recent flooding in the south-east of South Africa, the continent’s largest economy, owners of agricultural fields are even asking buyers, on their behalf, to “find” workers for the harvest, which increases costs, he added.
Less quantity being taken home
The rise in prices of essential products is also being felt in supermarkets in Maputo.
“I returned many things at the checkout because the money was no longer enough. My shopping plan fell apart,” Sonita Ismael told Lusa as she was leaving a Maputo supermarket.
Most of the increases, she continued, are of very low values for each product, but all in all, they result in less quantity being taken home.
“When the salaries increase this year arrive, they will be swallowed up by the new prices. The situation is difficult, and we will have more increases in fuel in the coming days,” said an employee of a public university in Maputo.
Carlos Enosse, the owner of a construction company, said that he was paying more for the same amount of products that his family consumes, admitting that the situation is worse for the poorer classes.
“I’m not in a worse situation because I have a small business, but the bills have increased for everyone, and it could get worse,” he said as he put the purchases he had just bought into the boot of his car.
At the beginning of April, the Bank of Mozambique anticipated an “acceleration of annual inflation in the coming months,” to 6.61%, after 6.19% in February, due to rising fuel and food prices around the world arising from the “escalation of geopolitical conflict in Europe,” in an allusion to the war in Ukraine, “and the occurrence of natural disasters in the central and northern region” of Mozambique, which caused losses in the first quarter.