GOVERNMENT has warned milling companies that are selling mealie meal at a price higher than the K85 recommended price that they will be arrested and prosecuted as well as have their maize cheaply sourced from the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) confiscated.
Information and Broadcasting Services minister Chishimba Kambwili has charged that selling mealie meal at a price higher than K85 was stealing from Zambians and that the police should take action against such millers and that their maize stocks should be confiscated.
Mr Kambwili, who is Chief Government spokesperson, said yesterday that Government had observed with dismay that some millers and traders of mealie meal were taking advantage of the subsidized maize from FRA to exploit citizens by charging high prices.
He said Government was also alarmed at the rate of smuggling of maize and mealie meal out of the country which he said was creating an artificial shortage of the staple food which had caused the increase in the price of the community.
Mr Kambwili said it was ‘‘unjust, unacceptable, dishonest and utterly criminal’’ for millers who were accessing cheap mealie meal to make undue capital profits at the expense of citizens.
‘‘Government will not hesitate to terminate contracts of millers who flout the terms of contracts. Government will also recall the maize supplied to erring millers and shall allocate it to millers who are following contract terms,” Mr Kambwili said.
Government had since terminated the contracts of four milers with one in Lusaka, two in Central Province and another in Northern Province respectively, stating that the State will not standby and watch its citizens being exploited.
He stated that Government was going to ban and blacklist all erring millers in the country from participating in FRA programmes for two consecutive seasons.
Mr Kambwili however said Government would continue with FRA subsidized sales to local millers across the country but that it would continue to monitor the distribution of subsidized maize offloaded to millers and the prices of mealie meal.
He said security personnel would now have to look for authentic export permits from the Ministry of Agriculture and phytosanitary certificates from the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI).
Mr Kambwili said the Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF) will install 2,000 solar powered plants countrywide by April next year and that ZCF had so far received 100 units in the country of which 65 had been installed in Lusaka, Eastern, Northern and North-Western provinces.