26 November 2012

Zambia: Curb Mealie-Meal Smuggling - ZACA

THE Zambia Consumers Association (ZACA) has urged Government to quickly consider increasing surveillance in border posts to curb smuggling of commodities such as mealie meal to neighbouring countries.

ZACA's appeal follows the recent shortage of mealie meal especially on the Copperbelt where the commodity is fetching as much as K80,000 per 25kg bag.

Executive secretary Muyunda Ililonga said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that there was need for Government to increase surveillance on the borders to curb smuggling of mealie meal and quickly address the shortage which has been going on for the past few days.

Mr Ililonga said the shortage of the staple food on the Copperbelt can cause despondence in the most populated area, hence the need for Government to address the matter with the urgency it deserves.

"This shortage of mealie meal on the Copperbelt is a matter of concern to us as the consumer body because it can cause despondence. So we appeal to Government to handle the matter with urgency and ensure consumers are not exploited by black marketeers who may take advantage of the situation," Mr Ililonga said.

He said if smuggling was not addressed, it would lead to loss of revenue for the Government and distort the information on for mealie meal.

And Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry(ZACCI) vice-president South Chabuka Kawesha said the Ministry of Agriculture should investigate what was causing the shortage of the staple food on the Copperbelt.

Dr Kawesha said what was happening on the Copperbelt was a matter of concern because if the trend persisted, it could cause unrest in the country hence the need to find a solution.

"As ZACCI we are not happy with what is happening on the Copperbelt, that is why we are calling on the Government to investigate thoroughly instead of just speculating," Dr Kawesha said.

Most consumers have been calling on the Government to consider involving itself in the milling of maize in order to compete with the millers in the country with the view to making the commodity affordable.

Consumers have complained that the cost of the commodity has remained high despite the country recording pumper harvests in maize.

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