SPEAKER of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini has directed Agriculture Minister Given Lubinda to issue a comprehensive statement on the reasons why there are high mealie meal prices and shortages.
Dr Matibini also directed Mr Lubinda to explain the reversal of maize export by his permanent secretary. The Speaker’s ruling was necessitated by a point of order raised by Patriotic Front (PF) Mpongwe Member of Parliament Gabriel Namulambe who wanted to know whether the Agriculture minister was in order not to update the nation through Parliament on the current escalating mealie meal prices, shortages and the reversal of exporting maize to neighboring countries Mr Namulambe quoted Mr Lubinda’s statement in which the minister pronounced Government measures on maize levels.
“Following the outcry from the general public that the price of mealie meal in most parts of the country has escalated the Food Reserve Agency has commenced the sale of 930 metric tonnes of maize to millers and communities in accordance with the FRA Act of 2015,”
“Government through the FRA decided to offload maize to millers in order to stabilize the crisis,” Mr Lubinda’s statement read on the floor of the House.
“The FRA sale price for maize has been K85 per 50kg bag with the millers’ selling price at wholesale being K70 per 25 kg of breakfast mealie meal and K55 per 25 kg of roller meal,”. But Mr Namulambe said despite Mr Lubinda’s statement , the price of mealie meal in most parts of the country had gone up in some areas.
“The same 25 kg bag is going for K160. In some areas K150 and K170. The cheapest here in Lusaka , I got this morning at K100 in Chainda compound.” Mr Namulambe said in shops such as Spar, customers were being restricted to only buy one bag making it difficult for those with funerals.
“Is the Minister of Agriculture who I was expecting to issue a statement in order not to come to this House and update the nation on the current status of the mealie meal shortages,” he said.
In his ruling, Dr Matibini said the Minister of Agriculture (Lubinda) should come to the House and render a comprehensive statement on the status relating to the vital product (mealie meal).