SOME milling companies in collusion with businessmen and some civil servants are hoarding maize from the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to cause an artificial shortage of mealie meal which has resulted into sharp increases in the price of the staple food in a scheme to create a food crisis so that Zambians can rise against Government, the Eastern Development Foundation (EDF) has charged.
And barely 24 hours after trucks were intercepted loading bags of maize on the Zambia Railways wagons in Chipata, security wings on Thursday impounded 14 trucks laden with a total of 8,400 of 50 kilogramme bags of maize (420 metric tonnes) destined for smuggling into Mozambique.
Eastern Province permanent secretary Chanda Kasolo disclosed that 14 drivers of the trucks were also apprehended including others on board and that the 420 metric tonnes of the grain could have been smuggled out of the country via Nyimba district.
Eastern Development Foundation chairman Kelving Chulu has urged Government to continue revoking licences of milling companies that have continued to abrogate their contractual obligations by frustrating Government efforts to make mealie meal abundant and cheaper for citizens.
And the Patriotic Front (PF) in Chirundu has dispelled assertions that shops in the district were selling mealie meal at a prohibitive price of between K130 and K140 per 50 kg per bag.
Mr Chulu said it was criminal that some milling companies in collusion with some businessmen were engaged in the smuggling and illegal exportation of maize and mealie meal and that there was need to severely punish those involved in the scandal.
He said it was disheartening that the Mwami border in Chipata was being used as an easy exit point for maize being smuggled or illegally exported to foreign markets.
He said in an interview yesterday that Zambia was food secure but that some unscrupulous millers and businessmen were deliberately sabotaging Government efforts to make the staple food easily accessible and affordable at the recommended prices.