ZIMBABWE government Tuesday announced that a 10 kgs pocket of roller meal will now be sold at $70 up from $50 in a development that is likely to trigger price hikes on the black market where the basic commodity is readily available.
The new prices are outlined in a statement released by the Finance Ministry
“I am pleased to announce that Government has reviewed upwards the subsidised price from $50 to $70 per 10kg bag of roller meal against the prevailing market price of the product and implementation of the new subsidy price is with immediate effect,” the statement said.
The ministry said the subsidy which had seen the commodity being sold at $50 since December 2019 was being abused by unscrupulous players in the sector resulting a wide gap between the prices obtaining in the market and the actual subsidy.
Government also revealed that government will soon incept a robust subsidy targeting system to benefit intended people.
The issue of mealie meal has been giving government a headache due to critical shortages which have forced dealers with access to the subidised commodity to divert it to the black market.
The chairman of the mealie meal taskforce, who is also Deputy Minister of Industry of Commerce Raj Modi, has since unearthed cartels causing “artificial” mealie-meal shortages.
For instance, he said some of the maize is disappearing before reaching the millers. Furthermore, the millers themselves, after getting supply, are channeling a huge chunk of the mealie-meal to the black market, not retailers.
Retailers have also been caught in the web as they have been alleged to be diverting the commodity to the parallel market.
Late last year there several media reports suggesting that a cartel of retailers and vendors who were hoarding mealie-meal in Victoria Falls and selling it in hard currency to Zambian cross-border vendors on the black market.
Mealie meal shortages in Zimbabwe have been triggered by a crippling drought which hit the nation in previous farming season, leaving around 5.7 million people in dire need of food aid.