Mealie Meal prices set to shoot up again as govt dithers on grain subsidy

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By Staff Reporter

THE price of mealie meal could shoot up again as early as this Thursday following Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube’s failure to disburse grain subsidies he announced this past week.

According to a leaked letter written to Ncube by Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) chairperson, the failure by government to avail promised subsidy on the staple has created a crisis as millers had already started reducing their prices.

Said Musarara in the letter, “Reference is made to our agreed subsidy regime arrangement on Roller Meal which you correctly to the consuming public last week.

“Regrettably, Ministry of Finance is yet to make good on its upfront payment of the subsidy funds to Millers.

“However, as a gesture of goodwill, millers had already started to reduce prices. Unfortunately, our members are financially handicapped to continue selling at the subsidised prices in the absence of the subsidies paid upfront as agreed.

“Accordingly, unless the funds are provided today (Wednesday), our members will have no choice but to revert back to the previous prices on Thursday 12 December 2019.”

Attempts to reach Musarara for further comment were not fruitful while GMAZ spokesperson Garikai Chaunza’s phone went unanswered.

The pricing circus involving the country’s staple began last month with Ncube scrapping grain subsidies which he argued during budget presentation they were an unnecessary burden to the fiscus.

Ncube was forced into a U-turn when President Emmerson Mnangagwa told a Zanu PF rally in Gweru recently that subsidies were necessary to keep mealie meal prices affordable to the poor majority.

The Treasury boss last week announced a new subsidy regime which saw millers and retailers reduce their prices for a 10kg bag of Roller Meal to $50, down from $80.

The latest piece of drama could see prices shoot up again as early as this Thursday, amid signs government was at sixes and sevens on how to deal with massive hunger in the country.