BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE
INFORMAL traders in Bulawayo have called on authorities to monitor subsidised roller meal distribution, claiming the commodity was being sold for US$6 on the black market through telesales.
Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association director Michael Ndiweni said roller meal should be monitored from miller to consumer to curb leakages.
“What is key is that the mealie-meal is coming from unscrupulous retailers and millers because there is no way you find local brands being sold on mobile sources while there is an association of mealie-meal in the city,” Ndiweni said.
“It is very sad that there is a collaboration between some retailers and millers to ship the commodity to the black market at the expense of the suffering citizens.”
Added Ndiweni: “The biggest challenge is that if there are leakages between the millers and retailers, it becomes difficult to control the vendors. The authorities must enforce the law at the source. There should be penalties from the source.”
He said the commodity was being sold at exorbitant prices, which were beyond the reach of many.
Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe spokesperson Garikai Chaunza declined to comment.
“Kindly refer that issue to the Competition and Tariff Commission sir, and if you may kindly let us know which brands are on the black market,” he said.
Industry and Commerce minister Sekai Nzenza said her ministry worked closely with millers to ensure there were no leakages, saying they were, however, reviewing the subsidy programme.
“My ministry worked closely with the millers and carried out due diligence and verification exercises. Once our records showed that the miller had been compliant with the requirements, we paid the millers. Consumers were able to get roller meal at the stipulated cheaper price from the supermarkets,” she said.
“However, there were problems with hoarding, arbitrage and overpricing. As government, we are currently reviewing the subsidy programme and plan to develop an efficient system that targets the most vulnerable in our society. The informal traders should be able to access roller meal as well once this mechanism comes into place very soon.”
Nzenza said technical teams from line ministries such as Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Finance and her ministry as well as the Grain Marketing Board were collaborating in the exercise which would provide cheaper roller meal to everyone, particularly the vulnerable.