Mealie meal shortages still rampant in Eastern Province, reveals Jay Banda

Mealie meal shortages still rampant in E/Province, reveals Jay Banda

By Ernest Chanda

PETAUKE Independent member of parliament Emmanuel ‘Jay’ Banda says mealie meal is still in short supply in Eastern Province despite government assurances that the situation has been addressed.

In an interview, Banda said government’s use of the Zambia National Service (NZS) milling plants to mitigate the situation has not helped.

‘’There’re still shortages; we are still very far, we’re in a crisis,’’ he said yesterday.

Asked if the mealie meal deliveries from ZNS have helped beef up the stocks and reduce prices of the commodity, Banda responded: ‘’No, it’s not doing anything and it’s a drop in the ocean when you talk about ZNS [filling the market].’’

Recently, President Hakainde Hichilema dispatched ministers to all provinces to assess the mealie meal situation.

However, the President has not informed the nation about the findings.

Anmd stakeholders have challenged the President to reveal the findings.

Among them, Shiwang’andu PF member of parliament Stephen Kampyongo recently said the ZNS milling plants were not meant to reduce the cost of mealie meal, hence it is a failed intervention from the current government.

‘’You cannot expect those milling plants to be used in order to reduce the cost of the staple food which is mealie meal. That is why the private millers are very critical at all times, unless you want to kill off that business of millers. Just from there it becomes a problem and if the maize is not available…,’’ said Kampyongo. ‘’You never saw ZNS going to the market to procure maize or from milling plants or produce maize, so meaning they had to depend on the FRA (Food Reserve Agency) for maize and the maize stocks at FRA are equally limited. It wasn’t for the purpose they are trying to use it for. Those milling plants were made to ensure that our men and women in uniform, in all military cantonments, are also supplied with rations so that we cut down on the domestic debt that was accruing every other time due to suppliers who were supplying the Ministry of Defence and military with food rations specifically the mealie meal. That was the primary purpose and to also make ZNS productive so that the production can be able to fit into the milling plant and only intervene at critical times such as the times when we may have food crisis, disasters in order to lessen the cost.”

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