Harare(New Ziana)-Small and medium scale millers on Tuesday accused bigger industry players of abusing the government maize subsidy by smuggling the commodity out of the country.
Late last year, the government introduced a subsidy on roller meal to cushion citizens from the increasing cost of the staple food.
Supply of the commodity on the market has remained constrained as effects of last year’s drought take hold.
To offset supply challenges, the government has started importing grain with private players also complementing it.
Appearing before Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Settlement, the small and medium scale millers accused bigger operators of abusing the subsidised grain by smuggling it to neighbouring countries.
“I do not have the evidence but I can point you in the right direction where you can find evidence of maize going to the Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s subsidised maize that is being given to us by the government to provide food for the country but not being used for that purpose, it’s for something else,” said Mr Brands managing director, Wayne Moss.
United Milling Company director Davis Muhambi supported the assertion by Moss that smuggling of the subsidised maize was taking place.
“So we suspect that was the maize that was being loaded to go to the DRC in the trucks which carry copper from the north in Zambia and DRC going to South Africa. They come back empty, they get to the border where they are stamped to have cargo which is maize from South Africa.
“They come through Harare, pick up the maize, go to DRC exit Chirundu with maize which is subsidised by the government,” he said.
The subsidised roller meal, which is currently in short supply, is supposed to retail at $70 per 10 kg bag but is being sold for between $105 to $150 for a 10 kg bag on the black market.