HARARE – Alpha Media Holdings joined the wave of price increases sweeping Zimbabwe on Wednesday, after announcing that the cover price of its three newspapers is to double with immediate effect.

The Standard and NewsDay’s cover price is going up from $1 to $2 while the Zimbabwe Independent will be sold for $4, up from $2.

Deputy Information Minister Energy Mutodi, meanwhile, has demanded that the newspaper company, owned by Trevor Ncube, reverts to the old price.

Mutodi said on Twitter: “Newspaper prices to remain at $1. Following a government directive for unscrupulous businessmen to stop hiking prices, I am urging all newspapers to stop flying along the wind and keep their prices at $1. The media industry shall never be subject to speculative behaviour under our watch.”

Ncube is a prominent supporter of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose disputed election in July is partly blamed for a deepening economic crisis.

Alpha Media, in a statement, said it “noted with concern the recent developments that have fuelled market speculation, product scarcity and resulted in general cost increases.”

“Unfortunately, we have not been spared from the market forces and hence we have had to adjust the cover charge of each of our publications accordingly,” the company added.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube on October 1 announced a 2 percent tax as the Reserve Bank announced that banks would separate foreign currency accounts from the RTGS/bond note accounts – effectively de-dollarizing.

The tax will apply on mobile and card payments and bank transfers above $10 with exceptions for foreign payments and transfer of government funds.

Business and citizens objected, saying they would be paying for the government’s profligate spending. The surrogate bond note currency’s value has plunged – triggering countrywide panic.

Businesses say the tax will eat into their profits and have raised prices, while some have closed shop while trying to make sense of the situation.