It is yet to be a complete joy for Bulawayo residents who have since been awaiting the government to deliver on its promise of subsidised mealie-meal.
On December 5, 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.
Despite the government saying the implementation of the subsidy was with immediate effect, supermarkets in the city maintained old high prices for the greater part of last week.
The government-promised cheap mealie-meal was nowhere to be seen with shoppers moving from one shop to another looking for the staple food.
Despite assurance by the government that the commodity prices had been reduced, shops in Bulawayo maintained the old high prices.
While the mealie-meal remained unavailable, the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) chairman, Tafadzwa Musarara, issued a statement to the effect that price reduction exercise on roller meal was on-going nationwide on a fast track basis, drawing public anger.
It was only Monday, nearly two weeks after the announcement, that the cheap mealie-meal hit Bulawayo but was not enough for everyone who wanted to buy it.
People had to queue at supermarkets in order to buy that mealie-meal in the Central Business District of Bulawayo.
Bulawayo’s Ward 22 councillor, Rodney Jele told CITE his ward was yet to access the cheap mealie-meal.
“In my ward, we are yet to get the cheap mealie meal,” he said.
“It’s sad that when prices go up shop owners don’t care if it’s old or new stock.”
He said it was regrettable that mealie-meal continued to be bought at exorbitant prices despite the government having introduced the subsidy.
“It is very unfortunate that subsidised mealie meal remains inaccessible to the majority of people who really need it for their livelihood,” bemoaned Nkulumane legislator, Kucaca Phulu.
“I always emphasise that the government needs to allocate more resources towards welfare and basic food. However, the real solution is to fix the economy so that prices stabilise and people get work to enable them to buy food at market prices.”
He added: “We still have a dire shortage here as people have to queue for mealie meal. It’s going to be a gloomy holiday.”