February 11, 2020

Zim millers withholding mealie-meal

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Takudzwa Chihambakwe

Zimbabwean millers are holding stocks of mealie meal as the Southern African country’s citizens struggle to get their hands on the staple food.

Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) chairman, Tafadzwa Musarara on Tuesday revealed that most millers in the country have grain but are not happy with the pricing set by Government.

“We are getting limited stocks of grain from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and millers are also importing maize into the country. But, we are unable to sell mealie-meal obtained from imported grain because the subsidized price was computed using maize from the GMB. Now we have imported maize which is more expensive than what we were getting from the GMB,” said Musarara.

“We have engaged the Ministry of Finance and other relevant authorities and presented our matter to them. We are now waiting on them to review the prices.”

Quizzed on whether some millers had stocks they were sitting on, Musarara said: “Yes, we have members with limited roller meal stocks which they have milled from imported maize. With the current subsidy price, they cannot sell.

“We have agreed with the government that there has to be an intervention, which we are now waiting to be announced – maybe today, tomorrow or any time this week.”

But will the situation improve if the pricing issue is resolved?

“The situation will start to improve,” said Musarara.

Besides the pricing challenges, there are also other logistical problems affecting millers, added the GMAZ official.

“Zimbabwe has a demand of 80 000 tons per month. Broken down, that becomes 2700 tons per day. To meet this demand, we need close to 100 trucks ferrying grain daily into the country.

“However, due to construction taking place at the Beitbridge Border Post, and other logistics, the clearance of the trucks is taking long.

“We have pleaded with authorities to assist us with the delays at the border to ensure that movement of trucks is expedited,” he said.

Meanwhile, Musarara also spoke about mealie-meal which has flooded the black market.

“Retailers who receive supplies from millers might not sell everything. They might divert some onto the parallel market. Secondly, we might have professional buyers. These are people queuing every day and obtain excess of their requirements and then sell the remainder. Then we might also have some companies which are milling and then diverting to the parallel market,” he opined.

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