The Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) have warned about an increase in mealie meal prices. This has been attributed to rising production costs and reduced quantities of the maize grain on the market. It is strange that we have a maize shortage on the market after Given Lubinda assured us that we have enough maize. But we cautioned Lubinda at the time. The first mistake was that PF offered farmers 75 kwacha per bag that is,1500 kwacha a ton or US$120 at the current exchange rate. What the PF did not realise as they ignored us yet again was that the informal traders had found a market which was offering them US$200/ton. This let to massive exports by both formal and informal means. These are things we brought to the attention of the Minister but he ignored us.
This price increase comes at a time when ZESCO is also proposing an increase on electricity tariffs. This will further increase production costs in addition to costs attributed to on-going massive electricity load shedding.
We have been advising the PF leaders for sometime now that they need to stop maize exports and first check the national consumption levels. The food national balance sheet looks good on paper, but there is no maize on the ground. They keep asking for alternative policies which we have been giving them regularly but they just ignore everything we say and later blame nature and God for the calamities that have befallen the country. Nature and calamities will always be there, that is why people build houses that insulate themselves from nature. The same applies to a country, what if we do not have rainfall this year, what will happen?
We really wonder how the majority Zambians will now survive with the ever raising cost of living coming at time when the mines are laying off workers, industries are closing; many are losing jobs and yet there is no action from those in leadership to address the situation.
On mealie meal, we have always advised on the need for those in Government to improve production methods to improve productivity so that maize becomes cheaper to produce. We have largely been ignored. We have proposed value addition to our maize grain so as to create more jobs locally and get other commodities such as animal feedstock; our advice has been ignored.
Many of the problems being faced currently are our own creation and nothing to do with the so-called global issues. PF must just own up and come clean that they have failed to govern so that they can step aside and let those that are serious take over the reins of the country.
Issued by: UPND National Campaign Centre, Lusaka