The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has noted with concern Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ)’s continued behaviour of agreeing and subsequently announcing the prices of mealie meal.
In a statement, CCPC Spokesman Hanford Chaaba said this conduct violates Section 8 of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act no. 24 of 2010 which is clearly against the idea of concerted practices or decision by players.
Mr Chaaba said it has to be clearly understood by the Millers Association that talking about impending prices increments manipulates the market by triggering price increases and cause panic buying by consumers, hence creating artificial shortage of the commodity.
‘Such announcements by the Millers Association signals and creates anticipation which often is unnecessary and contrary to public interest. Already we have noticed that some retailers have started increasing the prices of mealie meal since the announcement from the association a couple of days ago,’ Mr Chaaba said.
Mr Chaaba said the Commission will not sit idle but will investigate this matter and where a case is found, punitive measures will be mated out to the Association and its members.
‘The Commission would like to take this opportunity therefore, to severely warn the Millers Association to desist from engaging into this conduct, and this should be the last time such unfortunate statements with regards to prices on maize are made,’ he said.
Meanwhile, the Millers Association of Zambia has suspended plans to increase the price of mealie meal by 15 Kwacha. Association President, Allan Sakala says this is to allow for a meeting with Agriculture Minister, Given Lubinda.
Mr Sakala says the decision was arrived at after a meeting held on Tuesday. He has since urged all millers to remain calm and has directed that no one should effect the new mealie-meal prices. Mr Sakala has further explained that the millers have proposed solutions that will bring down the price of mealie meal. He was speaking in an interview with TV 2 News in Lusaka on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Chief Government Spokesperson, Chishimba Kambwili said government is NOT in favour of increased mealie meal prices.