Obert Mpofu, Zimbabwe's industry minister, ordered businesses to halve the prices of goods and services in a bid to curb inflation which is sprialling above 4,500 per cent, but the announcement has been widely ignored.
  
Production stopped

Many manufacturers say the government-set prices mean they cannot cover their costs and have stopped production, leading to wide-spread shortages of basic goods such as cooking oil, maize meal, sugar and salt.

Economic analysts have predicted that the items will resurface on the black market at even higher prices.

Oliver Mandipaka, police spokeman, told the official Herald newspaper on Monday that a wider crackdown on business people and black market vendors was planned.

"We will continue to arrest anyone who will defy the government imposed controls on basic food comodities. We will not stop until there is order in the business community," he said.

On Saturday, Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change opposition party, called the price controls and subsequent crackdown "crooked economics" and "an election gimmick" ahead polls due to be held next year.