Taskforce to curb mealie meal side marketing set up: Minister Nzenza

By ZBC Reporter
GOVERNMENT has set up a task force comprising various stakeholders headed by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers to ensure the success of the grain subsidy programme.
Briefing the media in Harare this Thursday, the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Dr Sekai Nzenza revealed that systems are now in place to curb the side marketing of subsidised maize meal, and attributed the current shortages to production gaps.
“Following the government’s decision to introduce the maize-grain subsidy last year, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce has been working very closely in collaboration with key stakeholders to ensure that there is no shortage of mealie meal in the supermarkets,” said Minister Nzenza.
“However, during the holiday, there were some challenges because a number of the millers stopped milling maize during the Christmas period and as a result, we did experience some shortages which are still going on. For us to ensure that maize meal is affordable for everyone, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce is closely monitoring the subsidy programme in collaboration with the Confederation of Retailers Association, Grain Marketing Board and other key stakeholders.
“In Bulawayo for instance, to mitigate against the shortage, we have set up a taskforce which is being led by the Deputy Minister of Industry, Honourable Raj Modi which will ensure that there is transparent, accessible and fair distribution of maize-meal at affordable prices ($50) and we are beginning to see this happening as we are seeing some positive results.
Minister Nzenza made a plea for members of the public to desist from hoarding and panic buying as a means of curbing the black-market effects of the general populace.
“We are importing maize and it is arriving daily at the GMB to enable that we have mealie-meal. As the minister of Industry and Commerce, my role is to urge members of the public to desist from hoarding the commodity and always buy what is enough as this will contribute to some of the shortages. We are appealing to all the consumers out there to avoid panic buying. The task force will also look into the issue of hoarding which is allowing people to raise prices on the black market.”
Subsidies on maize-meal were restored to ensure citizens have access to cheaper basic foodstuffs and cushion them against the current economic challenges.
However unscrupulous business people are reportedly diverting the subsidised mealie meal to the black market and selling at prices as high as $75 to $110 per 10 kg pack, while 5kg is sold for $55, a 2kg pack costs $15, while 500g costs $9.
Zimbabwe’s annual maize consumption stands at 1,8 million tonnes. The country’s food security has been severely affected by the El Nino induced drought last cropping season and Cyclone Idai which ravaged parts of the country in March last year leaving most households vulnerable. The government has assured the nation that there will be adequate grain and is already importing grain from he Atlantic, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.