The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) has condemned the abuse of the government maize subsidy, which has resulted in the hoarding of subsidised mealie-meal, which is later sold at higher prices at the expense of the poor.
On December 5 last year, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube, announced a new subsidy on maize meal that would see the retail price of a 10kg bag of roller meal being pegged at ZWL$50 down from between ZWL$95 and ZWL$105.
However, since then the cheaper mealie-meal has been scarce, amid reports it was being channelled to the parallel market through the back door, forcing citizens to queue in order to secure it.
Some of the subsidised maize is also reportedly sold outside the country at a profit.
Ncube this week disclosed, he had been made aware of the abuse of the facility.
“I am aware that roller meal being sold at a subsidised price of ZW$50 per 10kg is finding its way across the borders,” he said
“I am aware some people are buying it at ZW$50 and selling it across borders and making a margin by selling at a higher price. That, of course, we frown upon, it is not something that we welcome and it should stop.”Finance and Economic Development Minister, Prof Mthuli Ncube
CCZ Matabeleland regional manager, Comfort Muchekeza, described what is happening to the subsidised mealie-meal as a “serious cause for concern.”
“First and foremost, we really condemn that in the strongest terms,” said Muchekeza.
“That mealie-meal is being subsidised by the government and not only that. It is a basic necessity which is number one in the hierarchy of needs.”
He said the development indicated there were loopholes in the distribution system which needed to be plugged.
“We do not want to go back to the 2006-2007 era where mealie-meal was escorted from the millers to retailers and sold publicly in the wards; we do not want to go that far,” he said.
Muchekeza, however, said local authorities, such as the Bulawayo City Council, and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) should collaborate to ensure they end the selling of such mealie-meal on the pavements by unlicensed dealers.