GMAZ proceeds with mealie meal distribution despite grain price hike by govt

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By Idah Mhetu

THE Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) has elected to proceed with the distribution of subsidised mealie meal in spite of a recent government decision to increase maize prices by 100 percent.

Until last week, government, through the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), was selling maize at $6 000 per tonne to millers, something that allowed retailers to maintain a price of $70.

The price was last week hiked to $12 400 without consultation.

Speaking to journalists at Murehwa Centre where GMAZ delivered 30 tonnes of mealie meal Sunday, spokesperson Garikai Chaunza said negotiations with government were going on, on the possible way forward regarding the zonal distribution of the staple and the pricing regime.

“Last week, we announced that we were going to suspend the distribution of roller meal until the finalisation of new prices which were announced by GMB,” Chaunza said.

“However, the negotiations are underway. GMB is engaging government in as far as the price of roller meal is concerned, and we needed to finish the old stock we had.”

He could not however divulge details of GMAZ’s initial engagement with Industry and Commerce Minister Sekai Nzenza last week, preferring to describe them as “fruitful”.

Chaunza could also not be drawn into commenting on possible price hikes by retailers following government’s unilateral move.

“GMB increased the price of maize by 100 percent, but the chairman is engaging government.

“We are in business as well as we also have a social mandate which is the responsibility to feed the nation. So, when we negotiate, we negotiate for the nation to which we have an obligation of feeding.

“We also negotiate taking into consideration that we are in business and we also want to continue. So, we need a balanced situation with the government,” said the GMAZ spokesperson.