Confusion on Tuesday arose in some urban shops in Malawi, notably Blantyre City, after price tags for some basic goods were removed, leaving buyers searching for attendants for help.
Some attendants did not also have immediate answers for the customers, whom they directed to tills, instructing them to “just pick the items and find out the price there [at the till]”.
Prices for items such as Sunlight wash soap and sugar already wore new price tags after Mondayâ€™s devaluation. The soap price rose from K86 to K102 per tablet whereas a packet of one kg sugar moved K215 to K250. In Lilongwe,Â some shops reported the price at K260 per kg.
One of the attendants said: “Prices have gone up because they are supposed to rise after the devaluation. We are still working on new prices for all other commodities, but we are getting instructions from our Lilongwe office.”
Spot checks found out that whereas some shops wasted no time to increase their prices, many maintained the old ones, saying they were yet to be reviewed.
Speculation was rife on Monday that prices for goods and services would shoot up, resulting in people queuing till late to stock up before the anticipated increases.
Another Blantyre shop said they closed after midnight because of the panic-buying.
Motorists were also seen queuing for “a last-minute buy of cheap fuel” amid fears of an increase.
MultiChoice (DStv) subscribers were left in the dark on the actual subscription fees as prices kept fluctuating following the devaluation. As of Monday, the rates were as follows: K25 500 for premium bouquet, K17 500 for compact-plus, K9 800 for compact and K7 500 for family bouquet.
On Tuesday, the rates were K22 651 for premium, K15 514 for compact-plus, K8 688 for compact, K6 206 for family and K3 103 for access, according to The Nation spot checks.
Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito and Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn) executive director Dalitso Kubalasa on Monday said the devaluation was long overdue.
Reserve Bank of Malawi governor Charles Chuka admitted that the move is a big sacrifice to all Malawians. Professor of economics at Chancellor College Ben Kaluwa also agreed with the RBM chief that prices would not go up as much because the kwacha has been trading at about K300 to the dollar of the parallel market; hence,Â prices for most goods already went up.