Zambian mealie meal has flooded the resort town of Victoria Falls despite a government ban on the importation of the basic commodity.
The Financial Gazette established that traders were making brisk business selling Zambian mealie meal at popular markets, while others moved around Chinotimba and Mkhosana townships on bicycles selling the product.
Some local shops also had stocks of the Zambian product, which sold for nearly half the price of locally produced mealie meal.
“It is the price and the quantity that matters,” said a local trader.
“It all makes economic sense for the suffering residents,” he added.
Investigations indicated that Zambian traders brought the mealie meal from across the border daily on bicycles for sale in Victoria Falls.
Some shop owners were now repacking the cheap Zambian mealie meal into smaller packages for resell to impoverished residents for a dollar a packet.
Thembinkosi Ndlovu, the southern region chairperson of the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe, said Zambian mealie meal was being smuggled into the country.
“This is a violation of the country’s laws. This is smuggling and I have alerted my national leadership in Harare. We want to find out how it is finding its way across the border when the government has prohibited the importation of mealie meal,” said Ndlovu.
“We have to find out what is happening at that border (Livingstone) otherwise we are in full support of the ministerial ban. Our fear now is that the cheap mealie meal will flow to every corner of Zimbabwe, greatly threatening the survival of local millers. The government’s statutory instrument is intended to protect local producers who have been under threat from foreign companies,” said Ndlovu.
In June this year, the government gazetted Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 which prohibited the importation of a wide range of goods unless under licence granted by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
The influx of Zambian maize products comes amid revelations that the milling industry in the southern part of Zimbabwe is in a crisis due to an acute shortage of grain.
The Grain Marketing Board, the sole government entity charged with procuring and distributing grain in the country, is now unable to supply grain due to the scarcity of the product.
Local millers are battling to import grain from neighbouring countries such as Zambia and South Africa and even Europe due to financial constraints.