Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
More subsidised roller meal will be in the shops once all millers start receiving the special maize allocations from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) from Monday after a fruitful meeting between the Government and millers yesterday.
Shortages have been severe since only eight of the 61 millers had been receiving the special maize allocations for milling into roller meal but from next week all millers will be receiving the special allocations from the GMB.
Millers met representatives from the ministries of Industry and Commerce, Finance and Economic Development, the GMB and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra).
The meeting came after some millers expressed concern that they were excluded from the subsidised roller meal programme as they had not been registered. After the meeting, both parties confirmed they had a fruitful discussion and expected things to start improving next week with the subsidised roller meal being made available in shops.
Secretary for Industry and Commerce Dr Mavis Sibanda said Government was working with millers to eliminate all problems preventing the availability of subsidised roller meal on the market.
“We are working together with millers. We are in the process of ensuring all millers are functional,” said Dr Sibanda. We had a cordial meeting with the millers. It was an important meeting to understand each other. Millers wanted to understand the subsidy process and we updated each other on the processes.
“As the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, we want all millers to survive.”
On the registration concerns, Dr Sibanda said all millers were registered with the GMB.
Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) national chairman Mr Tafadzwa Musarara said there had been some changes to the subsidy programme, resulting in some millers experiencing challenges.
He said only eight millers had so far been registered for the subsidised roller meal programme.
This resulted in shortages on the market. Mr Musarara was confident of an improvement from next week as both parties had agreed to forge ahead.
“What Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube committed to us and how the programme has been executed had variances. There was a selection of eight millers and we do not know how they had been selected; those who were given maize. We need everyone to mill.
“More than 43 members were excluded from the programme; that, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said is going to stop. Starting on Monday, GMB is going to take its responsibility of allocating maize to members, which allocation structure was done in consultation and agreement with the millers,” said Mr Musarara.
GMAZ said it was expecting to start receiving parts of its imported maize consignments which are expected to complement GMB’s supply. The organisation is expecting an initial delivery of 50 000 tonnes of maize from South Africa while another consignment is expected from Brazil.
“When the maize arrives in the next two to three weeks, we will discuss with Government on how much should go towards subsidised mealie meal. Two weeks from now, the situation should normalise,” he said.
The switch from a general grain subsidy to a particular product subsidy was meant to ensure that market prices prevailed throughout the system, except on the wholesale and retail prices of the actual subsidised product, thus removing market distortions that led to widespread cheating and inefficiencies.