THE City of Gweru has run out of mealie-meal with major supermarkets failing to restock, leaving hundreds of people stranded.
BY BRENNA MATENDERE
The dire situation has opened avenues for black market merchants in the down town areas where the commodity is selling it at exorbitant prices.
While a 10kg pack of roller meal is supposed to sell at $50, according to government gazzetted prices following a subsidy arrangement, on the black market the commodity is being sold for $120. The unscrupulous businesspeople are not accepting all modes of payments like swipe and mobile money transfers, but demanding cash only.
Last week, Bulawayo residents also accused some retail shop owners of abusing the subsidised mealie-meal facility by forcing consumers to buy other goods in order to be able to purchase the scarce commodity.
Residents told Southern Eye that supermarket owners forced them to buy other goods worth over $20 in order to buy a 10kg mealie-meal bag. There has been haggling between the government and millers over registration of firms meant to receive the subsidy, which sources yesterday said was the reason for the acute shortage of the basic food commodity.
“There has not been a fair supply of subsidised grain to millers as the scheme seems to be benefitting a few who are close to the powers that be. That is the reason we have reached this stage whereby there is virtually no mealie-meal in Gweru. The Ministry of Finance and Grain Marketing Board are not doing the right thing. They are corruptly handling the grain subsidy scheme,” said a source.
Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe spokesperson, Garikai Chaunza referred questions to Andrew Bvumbe, a Finance ministry official in charge of the grain subsidy programme.
“He is the one who is running the roller meal subsidy programme,” Chaunza said.
However, Bvumbe refused to shed light on the shortages of mealie-meal in Gweru or reveal if millers have received disbursements from his ministry to sell the commodity at subsidised prices.
“A statement was issued that it is the Ministry of Industry and Commerce that is in charge of that programme,” Bvumbe curtly said.