Zim millers meet govt, security chiefs over recurrent mealie meal shortages

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

ZIMBABWEAN millers under the umbrella Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) Friday met government and security commanders to air their views on how authorities could deal with current shortages on mealie meal.

This comes as shortages on the staple have continued in the country with little hope they could be resolved anytime soon.

To remedy the situation, GMAZ Friday met the Bulawayo Minister of Devolution Judith Ncube, members of Joint Operations Command (JOC) and resident representatives in which the group proffered its own solutions to the crisis.

“We had a closed meeting with Service Chiefs, millers, residents representatives and the resident minister about the mealie meal situation in the country.

“As you know mealie meal is a national security,” GMAZ national chairman Tafadzwa Musarara told journalists soon after the meeting.

He said his association proposed that millers with free funds should be allowed to buy maize direct from farmers using foreign currency.

“Our argument is that currently, we are using foreign currency to import maize. Why can’t we use that foreign currency to buy maize from our local farmers,” said the GMAZ boss.

“We can even pay the farmers at prevailing bank rate. In that way, we will be empowering the farmers as they will be able to import their own inputs.”

Musarara said his association also recommended for upward review of the price of mealie meal.

“Currently, a 10kg of the subsidised mealie meal costs about US$1. That amount is cheap considering what the rest of the region is charging for the same product.

“We are proposing that a 10kg bag of maize should cost between US$2, 50 and US$3.50,” he said.

The Harare businessman said his association wants government to pay the maize in advance to avoid losing value through inflation.

He said some of the proposals were still under discussion and therefore remained confidential.

“Assuming that the proposals which we have forwarded to government are taken on board, we will have mealie meal in the next 10 days,” he said.

He also revealed that some retailers were now refusing to buy the subsidised maize meal from millers because profit margins were very low.

“We sell a 10kg subsidised mealie meal for $63 while the retailers are allowed to sell the same commodity for $75.

“The profit is only $7 and some retailers do not see value in stocking the commodity.

“Besides, the subsidised mealie meal comes also with a lot of risks. People stampede to get the commodity and the distribution is also scrutinised,” he added.