Faced with spiralling inflation and shortages of basic commodities, the government wants to introduce Silo shops as part of their efforts to mitigate the current crisis. These shops will be opened in rural areas where according to the govermen,t most of the poor people live.

This was revealed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa while addressing a Rural District Councillors Meeting last Tuesday as reported in the Herald. These shops will start by selling 7 basic commodities at subsidised prices.

We now have the funding and we have identified seven commodities that would be subsidised.

These include mealie-meal, salt, sugar and cooking oil, among others. These shops target rural populace who are facing the most difficulties.

HE President Emmerson Mnangagwa

BACCOSI makes a comeback

Nowadays the word BACCOSI is used as an adjective for something that is extremely cheap and affordable. However, originally the word was an acronym for, Basic Commodities Supply Side Intervention. It was meant to shield people from spiralling inflation and shortages of basic commodities.

Under this scheme, people would buy a voucher for $10 000 000 (later $10 after zeroes were lopped off, that money couldn’t even buy a loaf of bread). They could then collect basics from allocated centres located in, wait for it, rural areas where most of Zimbabwe’s poor people live. Chiefs were tasked with overseeing the distribution process.

Corruption was rife and only the connected and the elite could access these basics at the said prices. One person even committed suicide when she was denied BACCOSI. Needless to say, the program was an abject failure.

Doing the same thing over and over again

Silo shops will fail again. The problem is arbitrage opportunities will be present from day one. Because of the government’s particularly soft stance on corruption, see what happened to Idai donations, for example, corruption and collusion will be rife, only those belonging to the ruling party and the big wigs will access goods from these shops.

Expect the operation of these shops to be just as opaque as everything the government does. The noble efforts of the government will not bear much fruit, as the corrupt will attack it like a pack of hungry hyenas.

In the end, 2008 will happen, not unless we change course. Currently, we are on a well-travelled path, a path we have walked on before.