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Zimbabwe Introduces Mealie-Meal Coupons As Staple Food Vanishes in Shops

FILE: Two elderly women shop for mealie meal and other basic commodities, March 14 2019, in the Mutoko rural area of Zimbabwe. Eastern Zimbabwe receives help to fight drought induced hunger.

The Zimbabwean government has introduced what it calls a ‘Targeted Coupon Scheme’ for the vulnerable in an attempt to ensure that most locals access mealie-meal, which is being sold at exorbitant prices in the black market.

In a post-cabinet meeting in Harare on Wednesday, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the government would use its database of the most vulnerable citizens to compile a list of the coupon recipients.

The coupons, which are set to be rolled out next week, will be used for purchasing mealie-meal in shops in the country.

She said, “… Cabinet noted that the previous mealie-meal price provided arbitrage opportunities to some unscrupulous people. What we are doing is what others have been doing in many countries and this has been successful. We have the data on people who are vulnerable and we are going to revisit that database and make sure that people who are vulnerable get help,” she said.

The government on Tuesday increased prices of a 10 kilogram bag of mealie-meal from 50 Zimbabwe dollars to 75 dollars.

Although mealie-meal is subsidized in Zimbabwe, millers are complaining that they are incurring huge import costs as the product in in short supply in neighboring nations.

Zimbabwe is facing a crippling drought that has forced almost eight million people to seek food aid in rural and urban areas.