BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
GOVERNMENT has begun a crackdown on errant retailers who are selling imported mealie-meal as it moves to curb the smuggling of the commodity from neighbouring countries.
The exercise, which came as the country has registered a bumper maize harvest this year, is meant to protect domestic millers.
Maize meal is the country’s main staple diet.
Recently, government banned importation of foreign mealie-meal which was sold at below market price, short-changing local millers.
As a result, some companies have reportedly retrenched workers and scaled down operations due to low sales following continued importation of cheaper mealie-meal and other products.
Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) national chairman, Tafadzwa Musarara yesterday said smuggling of mealie-meal was being fuelled by a “third force” to sabotage the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).
He said government had launched a blitz on shop owners who were stocking imported mealie-meal.
“Yesterday, I got a call from the secretary of the Finance ministry (George Guvamatanga) and we spoke at length regarding imported maize meal and its negative impact on job losses in the local grain milling industry, its potency to paralyse the buying of current bumper harvest maize and, of course, impoverishment of local farmers that will ensue thereafter,” Musarara said.
“GMAZ has been assured of government’s unequivocal support on clamping down on smuggled maize meal which is being imported by a third force to cause a glut in the market and designed to disturb the buying of the local maize by GMB. The ultimate aim is simply political mischief bent on failing the recovering crop production in Zimbabwe.”
Musarara said, government had requested GMAZ to identify all shops stocking imported maize meal.
He said the practice was prevalent in Bulawayo, Gwanda, Plumtree, Gweru, Kwekwe, Masvingo and Mutare.