BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
HARARE residents have complained over unfair distribution of subsidised roller meal which they claimed favoured uniformed forces and government officials.
The residents made the claims to Harare Residents Trust (HRT), and also implored the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) to avail sufficient roller meal to retail shops in residential areas.
They want the roller meal to be sold at affordable prices to allow for fair and transparent competition among the different brands of mealie-meal on the market.
“Most residents told the HRT in community engagements that they are disappointed and frustrated by the current mealie-meal distribution system that favours the uniformed forces and other government-linked officials,” the HRT said in a statement.
Zimbabwe has been experiencing a serious shortage of subsidised roller meal for the past year. The situation deteriorated during the COVID-19 lockdown with residents queuing for the staple food, raising fears of the spread of the deadly virus.
“Ordinary residents have claimed that the subsidised mealie-meal was being distributed to bigger supermarkets, but tuckshops and small shops were denied access,” HRT said.
“This has worsened the availability of cheaper and preferable mealie-meal to the majority of residents who live in the high-density residential suburbs.”
The lobby group added: “The majority of the suburbs do not have bigger supermarkets, so residents there depend on tuckshops and small businesses for their requirements.
“However, under the existing COVID-19 lockdown regulations, most of the small businesses and tuckshops have been forced to close shop. Moreover, even when they open, they do not receive the subsidised mealie-meal.”
The residents also accused managers of big retail outlets of channelling the roller meal to the black market, selling it for as much as US$4 per 10kg packet.
“Therefore, when residents spend longer hours waiting outside big supermarkets to be served, they are always told that the stock has been all sold,” the lobby group said.
“Yet they see the soldiers, police, war veterans and other politically connected organisations and individuals accessing huge quantities of the much-sought product that they resell on the parallel market.”
The trust, however, argued that the current pricing of the subsidised mealie-meal promoted corruption.
The HRT urged the authorities to consider a pricing model that was both sustainable and fair to all stakeholders.