Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) has donated 40 000 tonnes of grain to Government that the milling industry has imported using free funds.
GMAZ president Mr Tafadzwa Musarara revealed this in a speech at State House last Friday where the business community had been invited by President Mnangagwa to give an update of their response to Covid-19.
He said the gesture was part of their efforts in supporting the Government to minimise mealie-meal queues and promoting social distancing in light of Covid-19 global pandemic.
“On behalf of the milling sector, the stampeding of our citizens at the maize meal queues and promoting social distancing, we are offering, Your Excellency, 40 000 tonnes of maize that we have in the country now, which we procured under the free funds arrangement,” he said.
Mr Musarara said the 40 000 tonnes had been imported for non-essential production of other products such as snacks, breweries, stock feed, and others.
Zimbabwe is facing food shortages due to erratic rains that the country has recorded in the past two seasons.
The country needs 1,8 million tonnes of grain annually.
Despite the drought situation, President Mnangagwa has assured citizens that no one will starve as mechanisms had already been put in place to import maize from the region and around the world from countries such as Argentina, Venezuela and Brazil.
Government last year also made a proclamation that individuals or corporates with free funds can bring in grain into the country.
“We are offering the 40 000 tonnes of maize to the Government so that we ease demand, which is currently at 2 000 tonnes a day.
“We believe that if the Government is to accept this offer, we are going to reduce the queues and ensure that households, which are locked down are properly and adequately provided for during this lockdown period,” said Mr Musarara.
Consumers across the country have been stampeding for the scarce subsidised roller meal.
In Bulawayo, subsidised mealie-meal was being sold at $70 for a 10 kilogramme bag while in the informal market, the product was selling at between $180 and $200.
The Government has warned retailers in the formal market to ensure they adhere to the stipulated price levels. Regarding this issue Mr Musarara said:
“On the overpricing issue, Your Excellency, your counterpart, President Donald Trump (United States) has read a riot act on overpricing in America and we are fully behind you on that one.
“The products that we produce, especially maize meal, we have a subsidy arrangement through our Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, and we will work with them so that it is observed not to increase the prices.”
Meanwhile, the GMAZ boss said the milling industry has committed to feeding the medical personal attending to Covid-19 programmes and the patients.
“We have already pledged to the Honourable Minister of Health and Child Care food support or supplies to three centres, Wilkins, Thorngrove and Beatrice infectious hospitals for their canteens to be utilised by the would-be patients.
“In addition, Your Excellency we have provided 200 generous food hampers for the frontline staff to be identified by the Minister of Health and Child Care as our token of appreciation for the work that they are doing for the next two months.
“This is our thank you to the staff that is working there (above-mentioned hospitals),” he said. — @okazunga.