Zimbabwe: Bring Maize-Meal Subsidy Abusers to Book

28 January 2020

There is an unsavoury behaviour that has been developing over the years among Zimbabweans.

It is a deplorable habit that manifests itself through greed and self-aggrandisement.

It is also a characteristic, which speaks very well into George Orwell's classic "Animal Farm", that aptly demonstrates how systems can be manipulated to create scenarios where some animals are more equal than others.

Put simply, there are some people whether in Government or in the private sector who are abusing power and privileges.

Apart from the self-enriching element, the now so apparent "me, myself, I" behaviour reeks of a sense of self-entitlement.

This is the current scenario in Zimbabwe where the haves, and/or those well connected be it politically and/or in business will always abuse the system to their advantage, to the exclusion of millions of other people who also have the God-given right to benefit.

These individuals abuse every available opportunity so that only them, their relatives and cronies have access to everything that should be accessed by everybody.

Some of them have formed cartels to ring-fence their dirty deals.

For every product on the market, once there are chances of impending shortages, this self-entitlement attitude rears its ugly head.

We have seen it with basic commodities like cooking oil and sugar.

The health and fuel industries are no different.

It has also been the case with cash shortages, which have seen Zimbabweans buying their own currency on the parallel market.

As a people, there is need for introspection on the current scenario that touches on every household: the availability and accessibility of maize-meal since it is the staple food for the majority in sub-Saharan Africa.

After receiving normal to below normal rainfall in the last season, it is expected that maize supplies would be low.

The scarcity is worsened by the shortage of foreign currency, to import grain.

When everyone has the right to eat the most basic foodstuff, why should maize-meal be difficult to access and why should it be accessed on the black market, at exorbitant prices; and, in some cases, in hard currency?

When the Government subsidised roller meal, why did systems put in place fail to achieve the desired objectives, especially protecting vulnerable groups which depend on maize-meal?

How do these people, whom we believe to be part of well-organised syndicates, succeed to not only make the people suffer, but also abuse a noble initiative put in place by the Government? Why does the Government allow itself to be blamed, when it has all the machinery to maintain law and order? Why can't the loopholes be plugged on time?

It is now an open secret that there is rampant abuse of the subsidy on roller meal, which has resulted in the Government setting up a taskforce, "to ensure transparent and equitable distribution of the product."

According to the report, "the taskforce will make follow-ups with retailers to curb diversion of the maize-meal to the black market".

Putting a taskforce in place means the situation has gone out of hand.

But, will this solve the crisis considering that a number of southern African countries are faced with another drought, according to the Early Warning Early Action Report on Food Security and Agriculture by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)?

This threat to food security at household level is no different from other sectors, where unscrupulous individuals destroy people's livelihoods.

See What Everyone is Watching

More From: The Herald

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.