Zimbabwe is going through economic birth pains of sorts and we await word from our midwives on the outcome of these labour pains.
It is no use speculating on possible outcomes at this point. However, there are clear signs that can be attributed to this pregnancy. Our focus is the so-called black market.
In any market where there are shortages or pricing distortions, we tend to have a thriving black market. However, it is the impact that such a black market has on the populace that worries us. Elsewhere in this edition we carry a story on the proliferation of the black market trading of pharmaceutical products. Simply put, prescription drugs are now found on the streets. While we have become used to being accosted by uniform sellers outside established school uniform traders, having petrol containers waved at us at street corners, wads of cash dangled enticingly by foreign currency dealers in some parts of town, the sale of drugs is a new and quite worrying phenomenon.
Prices have become the major determinant of where people make purchases, to the extent of sacrificing their health by buying from the streets drugs whose safety cannot be guaranteed. While we urge our people, like the Government has done, to be wary of such drug supplies, this is likely to fall on deaf ears if there is no viable alternative. These are difficult times where many pharmacies are demanding foreign currency for drugs, rendering many medical aid schemes redundant and leaving the members badly exposed. Not so long ago, the ruling party resolved at its conference to impress on the Government to roll out pharmacies where the public would buy reasonably priced medicines. It would appear the black market has moved quickly to fill that space that the Government promised to occupy. We have people losing their hard earned money through being given counterfeit notes in black market foreign currency deals, losing their money through buying contaminated fuel on the streets and being sold fake crop chemicals but surely we cannot afford to have dangerous drugs, some of which are addictive, fill our streets as that could decimate our population.
All our people ask for is their safety and that can be guaranteed through offering them drugs at reasonable prices in a currency that they can readily access. While we await the birth of a new economic era, may we look after the pregnancy and the entire family so that when the baby is finally delivered we can all celebrate.