Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT is set to increase the price of subsidised roller meal following last week’s review of the maize producer price from $4 000 to $6 958 per tonne.
The imminent increase in the price of mealie-meal comes at a time when there is a serious shortage of the product, amid promises that more grain is headed for Bulawayo.
This will be the second increase in the price of the subsidised mealie-meal after Government reviewed the price of a 10kg bag to $70 from $50 last month. The subsidised roller meal shortages have seen unscrupulous individuals hoarding stocks that they are selling on the black market at exorbitant prices.
Super refined mealie-meal that was selling for $150 last week has since increased to $180.
Yesterday, most Bulawayo’s major retail shops did not have subsidised mealie-meal.
A Chronicle news crew observed that subsidised mealie-meal was being sold on the black market for up to $100 in cash and any other payment methods were not being accepted.
In an interview, Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister Raj Modi said the mealie-meal shortage was just temporary as Government would soon announce a new price.
“The problem with the millers is that they are working on the new price. They have the mealie-meal; they should be announcing the new prices to retailers. I think that is what has caused the shortage, the mealie-meal is there but what is left is for is the new price. Up to last week, it was going on very well. There was a lot of mealie-meal around up until the last two days because of the new GMB prices,” he said.
Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe media and public relations manager Mr Garikai Chaunza said millers will meet on Thursday over the new prices.
“After the Thursday’s meeting, we will issue a statement,” said Mr Chaunza.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Ministry yesterday said more grain is headed to Zimbabwe as the country seeks to address the drought situation.
In a statement posted on its Twitter account, the Ministry said so far 153 trucks have been dispatched with grain from Beira to Harare, leaving a balance of 179 trucks.
“Reports from Ambassador (Douglas) Nyikayaramba in Maputo indicate that more drought relief grain is bound for Zimbabwe from STEMA in Maputo with 259 wagons dispatched to Bulawayo to date. A balance of 143 wagons is outstanding to clear this whole consignment,” said the report.
Although GMB officials were not immediately available for comment, sources at GMB depot in Bulawayo yesterday said their silos in Tshabalala now had more than 10 000 tonnes of maize to last nearly two months.
“The stocks increased since last month. We are receiving maize from South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique. I can safely say we have more than 10 000 tonnes of maize in our silos which can last nearly two months. We have the grain but I guess the supply issue would be addressed by GMAZ. If there is a story to be told I guess it would come from the millers,” said the source.
The news crew also visited the Silo Industries depot in Belmont but officials there declined to comment on the mealie-meal issue, saying they were not cleared to speak to the Press. However, staff members who spoke on condition of anonymity said the Silo shop stopped selling subsidised mealie-meal last month but they were now supplying retail shops in the city.
In different interviews, residents said it was difficult to get subsidised roller meal.
“As it stands, some of us hardly get the subsidised mealie-meal. If you are working or committed everyday will you get the time to spend in a queue? But we also want to buy the subsidised mealie-meal because the super refined one is too expensive. I think police should just arrest anyone found selling mealie-meal on the streets. Before Government introduced the mealie-meal subsidy we did not have anyone selling it,” Mr Simon Mwinde from New Lobengula.
Another resident Mr Innocent Mabhena from Emganwini suburb concurred, saying there are too many greedy individuals out to make a killing at the expense of desperate citizens.
“Right now, if you go to the market place there is roller meal everywhere. How is it getting there? We are forced to buy it because we have families to feed.
“But as solution Government should just flood the market with the roller meal so that it does not become profitable for anyone to sell it in the streets,” said Mr Mabhena.