EditorialOpinionOPINIONS

STABILISING MEALIE-MEAL PRICES

It is clear that the public outcry on escalating mealie-meal prices, has caught the attention of government.

And like any responsible government, the new dawn administration has responded positively. Instead of engaging in the usual blame game, government has simply directed the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to release more maize on the market to ensure that millers are also able to pass on the cost benefit to consumers.

The price of mealie meal had in some cases, has risen to as high as K250 per 25kilograme (Kg) bag of breakfast from K150 for the same quantity earlier in the year.

We expect, along with millions of Zambians, that mealie-meal prices will start dropping following the positive steps which government is taking.

According to media reports, Government has directed the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to release 200,000 metric tons of maize to millers countrywide.

Commerce Minister Chipoka Mulenga says the move is meant to lower the escalating prices of mealie-meal.

Speaking during a press briefing in Lusaka, Mr Mulenga said government has been engaging nearly all millers and all of them will be buying maize from FRA at K4 per kg translating into K200 per 50kg bag of maize.

He said the move will enable millers access maize at cheap prices, which will translate into cheaper mealie-meal prices.

Knowing that some millers might want to make excessive profits on this maize procured at a lowered price, the minister issued a stern warning against millers.

The Minister warned traders who are in the habit of buying mealie-meal at cheaper prices but inflating the price of the commodity when re-selling to desist from the vice.

And the Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) has assured that modalities have been put place to see to it that mealie-meal prices are stabilised.

MAZ president,   Andrew Chintala assured that the public will begin to see results in the next few days.

In confirming the goodwill from government, Mr Chintala millers are now accessing cheaper maize which will help in reducing the prices.

He has further clarified that millers are non-partisan and have a task to work with the government of the day to ensure that Zambians are food secure.

This was in reaction to sentiments from a UPND members that some millers were raising the prices of mealie-meal unnecessarily because of being opposition PF members. This allegations has been trashed by even the ruling UPND who dissociated themselves from the statement.

We hope that this directive from government will not only be respected but sustained.

It would be most unwise for any miller to deliberately flout the directive and cause unnecessary pain to citizens.

Because maize is a staple food, some millers might want to take advantage of this gesture from government and inflate prices of mealie-meal. 

It is therefore important that there should be regular checks from the relevant government bodies to ensure that prices of mealie-meal are not inflated.

People must not be made to suffer just because of some whims of millers with an insatiable appetite for profit.

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