By Ndatenda Njanike
GRAIN Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) chairperson Tafadzwa Musarara on Tuesday blamed current mealie meal shortages on delays in transporting maize from South Africa.
Zimbabwe finds itself having to import the staple maize to feed millions following a disastrous 2018/19 farming season which has worsened the country’s perennial drought woes.
As a result, said the GMAZ boss, Zimbabwe has to import 80 000 tonnes of maize monthly, which translates to 100 trucks a day coming into Zimbabwe from South Africa.
However, Musarara said the process was being frustrated by current construction works in neighbouring South Africa where highways have been turned into one way lanes, delaying smooth movement of traffic.
“We need 80 000 tonnes per month (and) if you calculate it, it means about 2 700 tonnes a day, that is probably 100 trucks a day,” said Musarara at a media briefing.
“However, we are having limitation in terms of movement from South Africa, starting with the movement of traffic which is slow. There has been a lot of construction over there, they are using one lane for vehicles.
“We are experiencing serious delay especially on the South African side where trucks have to wait for three to four days with grain waiting for clearance,” he said.
The delays have seen a serious shortage of mealie meal in the country with most consumers relying on the black market for the staple.
Musarara also said grain silos in South Africa have been working on specific schedules and were unwilling to work beyond the designated time.
“The dispatching silos are only working within a limited time from 8.30am to 4.30pm and are not agreeing to work beyond, especially 24 hours,” Musarara added.
“The other challenge is that we are competing in the region to get maize from South Africa with other countries namely; Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi.
“The demand for mealie meal has gone up on the account of the ever increasing prices of other goods such as bread, potatoes and others, and mealie meal becomes the cheapest alternative.”