By AARON CHIYANZO
MILLERS have been accused of taking advantage of Government’s decision to lift the ban on the export of mealie meal by increasing the price of the commodity on the local market.
A 25 kilogram bag of mealie meal is now reported to be fetching around K100 in Chongwe and other areas while others are hit by shortages of the commodity.
Zambia Republican Party (ZRP) leader Wright Musoma observed that the millers were taking advantage of the lifting of the export ban.
Mr Musoma told the Daily Nation that Mealie Meal prices had suddenly increased sharply because most of the commodity was being exported. He reiterated that it was a lack of patriotism for the millers to take advantage of Government’s decision to lift the ban, which he said was done in good faith.
“What kind of greediness is this? This is purely a lack of patriotism. The lifting of the mealie meal export ban was done in good faith but the millers are taking advantage by exporting everything,” said Mr Musoma.
And former UPND presidential spokesperson Edward Mumbi advised Government to reverse the lifting of the export ban. Mr Mumbi warned that the continued exporting of the staple food would create a food crisis in the country.
He blamed Government for the increased prices, saying that they had lifted the export ban on mealie meal at the wrong time.
Mr Mumbi said that it was not surprising that the millers were taking advantage of Government’s decision because there was a good market in other countries.
Earlier, Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) president Andrew Chintala had told the Daily Nation that the increase in Mealie Meal prices was as a result of an increase in maize prices.
Grain Traders Association of Zambia executive director, Chambuleni Simwinga however refuted the claims, saying that the increase in the price of maize was too minimum to trigger such a sharp increase in the prices of Mealie Meal. Mr Simwinga said that the grain traders had enough maize in storage to supply the millers at reasonable prices. “Yes we might have increased a little because of the cost we are incurring to store the grain safely but the increase is not much to trigger such an increase,” he said.
Meanwhile, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Katanga Region governor Celestine Kapopo has appealed to President Edgar Lungu to allow for a coordinated export of Mealie Meal to his country.