By Staff Reporter
GOVERNMENT is planning a crackdown on retailers found selling cheaper mealie meal brands threatening to choke the local milling industry and jobs within the troubled sector.
Zimbabwe is sitting on a giant stock of maize grain and mealie meal which came about as a result of good rains experienced in the 2020-21 farming season.
But the yield has been consigned to storerooms as retailers have opted for cheaper imported brands which are more affordable to customers.
But in a leaked memo written to Zimbabwean millers, Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) national chairman Tafadzwa Musarara said the cereal processors have “been assured of government’s unequivocal support on clamping on smuggled maize meal”.
Musarara said he has had private discussions with Finance Ministry permanent secretary George Guvamatanga over imported maize meal and its “negative impact on job losses in the local grain milling industry, its potency to paralyse the buying of current bumper harvest maize and, of course, impoverishment of local farmers that will ensue thereafter”.
Said the millers boss, “This morning, I was privileged to receive another call from the Hon Deputy Minister of Finance on the same matter.
“GMAZ has been assured of government’s unequivocal support on clamping on smuggled maize meal which are being imported by a third force to cause a glut in the market and designed to disturb the buying of the local maize by GMB.
“The ultimate aim is simply political mischief bent to fail the recovering crop production in Zimbabwe.”
The planned blitz follows last week’s meeting between GMAZ and the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers which has pledged its support on the intended offensive on smuggled maize meal.
Added Musarara, “In light of the aforegoing, GMAZ has been requested to URGENTLY send particulars of ALL shops NATIONWIDE currently stocked with imported maize meal nationwide.
“For starters, we want to target Bulawayo, Gwanda, Plumtree, Gweru, Kwekwe, Masvingo and Mutare.”
The imported mealie-meal brands are mostly from neighbouring Botswana and South Africa with local millers now forced to scale down operations, and in some instances, laying off workers.
The imports are selling at US$3.50 for a 12,5 kg.