President Robert Mugabe has accused some members of his own party of causing shortages in a bid to trigger a revolt against his government.
The president made the claim in front of thousands of supporters bussed in to Harare International Airport to welcome him home from New York, where he attended the UN General Assembly.
“These are saboteurs, who want to cause panic against the government, so that people can riot against us, but our people are clever. They will not be swayed in that way,” Mugabe said, in comments carried by the private.
Speaking in Shona, Mugabe said ruling party members could be behind the shortages. “Some of them are people we play with every day, people we drink beer with, who are supporting the enemy,” he said.
At the weekend, many Zimbabweans went on buying sprees, stocking up on basic goods and fuel in anticipation of looming shortages.
There are fears the country is quickly sliding back into a crisis last seen in 2007-2008, a period marked by severe shortages and hyperinflation. Cash has largely disappeared from the formal market, and prices of goods have been going up. Retailers say they are forced to buy scarce foreign currency on the black market to restock.
‘We will deal with it’
In his airport speech Mugabe vowed to take unspecified corrective measures.
“This is not an issue you should worry yourselves over. We will deal with it in just two days,” he said.
Ten years ago his government dealt with rising prices, fuelled by hyper-inflation, by enforcing price controls and arresting thousands of retailers for “overcharging”.