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Big Millers Allegedly Selling Subsidized Maize in DRC As Basic Commodity 'Vanishes' in Zimbabwe


FILE: Two elderly women shop for mealie meal and other basic commodities, March 14 2019.

Some millers are claiming that big companies are exporting subsidized maize to the Democratic Republic of Congo and other nations at low prices while Zimbabwe is facing acute shortages of the staple food.

Speaking before the parliamentary agriculture committee, representatives of the Small and Medium Millers’ Association claimed that the big companies are also converting subsidized maize into porridge powder and other commodities at the expense of local consumers.

Parliamentary Agriculture Committee hearing in Harare, February 18, 2020. (Godwin Mangudya)
Parliamentary Agriculture Committee hearing in Harare, February 18, 2020. (Godwin Mangudya)

Wayne Morse Brant of Brands said indications are that big companies are engaged in a massive maize scandal and have not been brought to book by Zimbabwean authorities and the Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe.

“… I don’t have evidence but I’m sure if I point in the right direction, you can go find evidence of maize going to DRC. It’s subsidized maize that is given to us by government to provide food for the country. It’s not being used for those purposes, it’s something else.”

Davies Muhambi of United Milling echoed the same sentiments, adding that exporting maize to DRC and other countries has resulted in critical mealie-meal shortages in Zimbabwe.

Muhambi was expelled by the Grain Millers’ Association for allegedly failing to support the interests of the oganization. He claimed that there is a big scandal over maize exports to the DRC.

“… Trucks that carry copper from the north which is Zambia, DRC going to South Africa when they come back empty, when they get to the border they are stamped to have cargo which is maize from South Africa, come through Harare they pick up that maize, go to DRC, exit Chirundu with Zimbabwean maize which is subsidized maize.”

Representatives of some of the milling companies attending a parliamentary agriculture committee hearing in Harare on Tujesday, February 18, 2020. (Godwin Mangudya)
Representatives of some of the milling companies attending a parliamentary agriculture committee hearing in Harare on Tujesday, February 18, 2020. (Godwin Mangudya)

He pledged to provide evidence if needed by the parliamentary committee.

But representatives of big milling companies – Blue Ribbon Foods and National Foods – dismissed the allegations, noting that they were struggling to supply mealie-meal to locals.

National Foods’ Michael Lashbrook claimed that the company stopped milling subsidized maize last month after the government failed to pay it accordingly.

Lashbrook said they have just resumed milling subsidized maize but the company is not exporting subsidized maize to DRC or any nation.

Blue Ribbon’s Yusu Kamau also dismissed the claims, saying the company only caters for the local market.

The government recently reduced the price of a 10 kilogram bag of mealie-meal from 75 Zimbabwe dollars to 50 dollars.

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