BY FARAI MATIASHE
GRAIN Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) chairperson Tafadzwa Musarara has said millers in the country have been hit hard by the ongoing power outages, resulting in shortages of maize and wheat products.
Power utility company Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority introduced massive load-shedding schedules, resulting in some areas of the country, including industrial sites, going for up to 18 hours without electricity.
Speaking at a media briefing in Harare yesterday, Musarara said discussions were underway with Energy minister Fortune Chasi to have some of the millers spared the load-shedding.
“Electricity has been our biggest challenge. We have 90 milling companies in the country. We want at least 10 of them to be ring-fenced so that they operate 24 hours. Their equipment can’t operate on generators,” he said.
“We have been badly affected. It’s been our biggest challenge. We are having discussions with the Minister of Energy to have millers exempted from load-shedding.”
A few weeks ago, Zimbabweans faced bread shortages as a result of power shortages and poor access to foreign currency.
Musarara said the consumption of bread and other wheat processed products such as biscuits could be high from September 1 to December 31.
“Maize supply in the country is low. I don’t want to divulge the figures because I don’t want to cause unnecessary panic (among the citizens),” he said.
The GMAZ chairperson said despite power outages in the country, the nation was food secure, especially in terms of wheat supply, as a thousand tonnes of wheat
which was holed up at Beira port in Mozambique was beginning to be transported to Zimbabwe.
“I am glad to say that the (wheat) situation has improved. There were shortages of bread for the past three weeks. The milling system is now geared for the
festive season,” he said.
Musarara expressed gratitude to the government and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe as well as South African company Goldenstone and Partners (Private) Limited for helping to bring in the wheat which was stuck in Beira.
He said wagons carrying the wheat were already coming into the country, with some already delivered to millers.
Speaking at the same briefing, Goldenstone and Partners Private Limited director Anthony Denga said his organisation was bridging the gap between international and local markets.
“Our role is to bridge the gap between the local markets that need bond notes and international markets that need the United States dollars. Our aim is to
ensure that all the wheat in Beira comes in. The agreement is for us to bring in 120 000 tonnes of wheat and it is GMAZ’s discretion to extend the contract. We
know where to source is. It can be from Russia or other countries,” he said.