6 November 2008

Zambia: Millers Association Accuses Traders

THE Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) has accused traders who are selling mealie meal above the association's stipulated prices of exploiting consumers.

MAZ executive director, Harrison Banda said in Lusaka yesterday that MAZ had stipulated maximum prices for regions in Zambia and traders should abide by that.

Mr Banda said the recommended mealie meal prices ranged from K39,000 to K42,000 for a 25 kilogramme bag of roller meal and from K50,000 to K52,000 for breakfast for Lusaka retailers.

"These are the retail prices prevailing at the official MAZ millers' outlets, including major retail shops.

"Therefore any trader selling mealie meal at prices well above the MAZ millers' prices, although operating in a liberalised economy, would be trading unfairly to consumers," Mr Banda said.

A snap survey in Lusaka revealed that the price of mealie meal had shot up to about K61,900 per 25 kilogramee bag of breakfast while roller meal is being sold at K51,000 for a similar quantity

The Zambia Consumer Association (Zaca) separately condemned the increase in the prices of mealie meal and called on the Government to intervene to ensure that the prices were reduced.

Zaca executive director , Muyunda Ililonga said the increase of mealie meal prices was pure exploitation of the consumers.

Mr Ililonga said in an interview yesterday that it was sad that market forces in Zambia always favoured the traders and not the consumers.

He said the situation if left unchecked could create despondency in the country hence the need for the Government's quick intervention.

"Government has a responsibility to the people and must ensure that the staple food should not go beyond the reach of the majority. This is politically dangerous as it can bring about despondency," he said.

Mr Ililonga said the peasant farmers had always been complaining of the low prices at which they sold their maize and it was unjustifiable for the millers to say that the maize prices were too high.

He said there was no real competition on the Zambian market in the sector and accused the millers of teaming up.

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