By Audience Mutema
LEGISLATORS on Wednesday urged Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri to withdraw Statutory Instrument 145 of 2019 which barred the transportation of large quantities of maize ostensibly to stop the black market trade of the staple.
This was after Shiri had told parliament that the country was still facing a shortage of 100 metric tonnes this year.
Shiri said the country is facing drought with a national yield of 775 000 tonnes expected this year.
There would be a shortfall of 1 million tonnes which will be supplemented through imports.
MP for Harare East Tendai Biti asked Shiri on why he imposed SI 145 of 2019 when the country is facing shortage of over a million tonnes of maize.
“How much does Grain Marketing Board have in its stock at the present moment and in connection with the view of shortage of over a million tonnes of maize, why did the Minister enact SI145 and posed GMB a monopoly,” said Biti.
“We need to relook at the exact figures, but as for the reason why we enact the SI, we want to ensure that all the grain is accounted for and available for consumption at affordable prices,” Shiri said.
“If we allow everyone to access maize especially some companies, maize will end up unavailable to the consumers but the companies will have it but selling it at higher prices.
“One good example is of bread, government is releasing wheat but bakers tend to use it for confectioneries because they get more from that as compared to bread, with the little bread that we get they are selling it at the black market at higher price rates and this will not happen with staple food; not in a million years,” he said.
Job Sikhala, another MDC MP, also added that SI145 of 2019 contradicted the Competition Act. He said the Minister is not even aware that this SI violates some other Acts.
The minister imposed the SI 145 of 2019 last month as a way to outlaw maize exports but only empowered GMB to the sole buyer and sales of maize in Zimbabwe.