Michell Zvanyanya, Chronicle Reporter
INDUSTRY and Commerce Deputy Minister Raj Modi yesterday intervened to stop two shops in Bulawayo from selling a 10kg bag of subsidised roller meal at an inflated price of $78.
The customers were made to buy mealie-meal at a high price at Camfro Generals shop and Curtain Corner shop located along Fort Street between 5th and 6th Avenues.
When The Chronicle visited the two shops at around 12PM, the customers were flocking into the shops to buy the mealie meal at a normal price after Deputy Minister Modi convinced the owners to reduce the price to $50.
In an interview, the Deputy Minister said he visited the shops following a tip-off from one of the customers who was concerned over the hiked prices of the basic commodity in the shops.
He condemned the practice of abusing the subsidised mealie-meal, saying it is a controlled commodity meant to benefit ordinary citizens, hence individuals must not try to profiteer from it by selling it at high prices.
“When I visited the two shops, I found them selling the subsidised mealie-meal at a high price of $78. I managed to convince the owners to sell the commodity at a proper price and that is $50. What amazes me the most is that these shops do not have any tangible reason for selling the mealie-meal at a high price and I am aware that most supermarkets in the city have adopted a similar practice in order to make profits,” Deputy Minister Modi said.
“There is a need for constant monitoring of pricing of subsidised mealie-meal by retailers because most retailers are now abusing the commodity that is meant to benefit citizens. I have warned the shop owners that if they continue overcharging the commodity next time it will be confiscated and legal action will be taken against them.”
He urged consumers to resist bad practices and condemned businesses that seek to make mega profits out of people’s misery.
Mr Desmond Ncube, who was among those in the queue waiting to buy the mealie-meal at Curtain Corner shop, commended Deputy Minister Modi for intervening, saying they always buy the commodity at an inflated price in most shops with some of them demanding cash only.
He said there are also retail outlets that give conditions that a customer should first buy groceries to get a 10kg bag of mealie-meal.
“When we arrived here, we were told a 10kg of roller meal costs $78 which is a common price that most retailers are now selling the mealie-meal at. Some supermarkets even demand cash that we are unable to get as ordinary citizens. We are happy that Deputy Minister Modi came to our aid today and he has been monitoring the selling of this commodity in the shop,” said Mr Ncube.
Recently, Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Judith Ncube stopped Galaxy Cash and Carry Supermarket from selling the subsidised roller meal on condition that a customer first bought groceries worth $150.
The incident resulted in an uproar from customers at the supermarket located along Fort Street between 7th and 8th Avenues who complained that they only had money to buy mealie-meal. — @michellzvanyanyan2