Zimbabwe is reportedly grappling with "panic buying", as locals fear the return of the 2008 commodity shortages that left many shops without basic goods. According to New Zimbabwe.com, shoppers were stocking up on essential goods such as beef, bread, cooking oil, and other essentials in anticipation of a looming disaster.In recent weeks, the country has been running out of essential medical drugs and supplies of fuel have dwindled because importers were unable to secure foreign currency to replenish stocks.The Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers Association, President Denford Mutashu confirmed that the southern African country was facing a major panic buying problem, the report said. Mutashu, however, sought to allay consumer fears, saying they were working together with the government to address the problem. Unjustified Last week, the state-owned Herald newspaper said that the southern African country was struggling with a wave of price increases, which the government described as "largely unjustified". The report quoted the Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu as saying: "I have not received a brief on price increases and the magnitude, but I know it is a culture that has been developing in the last few weeks, people just increase prices."Meanwhile, Financial Gazette reported on Friday that prices of basic goods such as mealie-meal, meat, soap, toiletries, rice, sugar and vegetables were spiralling out of control due to a currency crisis precipitated by foreign currency shortages.The report said that the price increases were set to "worsen consumers' situation because disposable incomes have always been under pressure due to a combination of poor salaries, high unemployment and the fact that Zimbabwe is a high cost producer".* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTERFOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook.