Copperbelt Province Minister, Elisha Matambo, says a task force has been set to curb the smuggling of maize in all border areas. Mr. Matambo said the task force will patrol all border areas 24/7 and that all persons involved will face arrest while commodities and vehicles impounded risk being forfeited to the state.
” The smuggling is a syndicate and well organised to deliberately dent the image of the government. Am proud that we have a focused President who is finding solutions to deal with the mealie meal situation,” said Mr Matambo
He said the smuggling of mealie meal to neighbouring countries has contributed to the shortages and high prices of the commodity in the province and other parts of the country.
Speaking when he appeared on a special interview on ZNBC News, Mr. Matambo said that all those involved in the criminal act will be arrested and their mealie meal and vessels forfeited.
“In Ndola, we have impounded 15000 bags of mealie meal, 5,000 bags in Kitwe, and 52 vehicles impounded in Chililabombwe,” he said.
Mr. Matambo commended President Hakainde Hichilema for facilitating for the release of mealie meal from ZNS to the Copperbelt which now stands at over 3,500 in the last 48 hours.
He assured the millers on the Copperbelt that FRA has released maize in good quantities to enable the millers to satisfy demand.
He disclosed that the government has put in place a Task-Force to help deal with the situation comprising of the Zambia Revenue Authority, Zambia Police Service, the Zambia National Service and other law enforcement agencies.
In a separate interview, Minister of Agriculture Reuben Mtolo Phiri said that the government is seriously monitoring the quantities of maize given to the millers and their output.
He warned that any miller who will be found wanting will be set aside and they will be expected to operate within their own confines and stock.
Mr. Mtolo said that the cheap maize being given to the millers should have benefits passed on the consumers in terms of cheap mealie meal which is readily available.
Of late, some parts of the country have reported shortages and price hikes of the commodity which is artificial as the country has enough maize stocks as evidenced from the consecutive bumper harvest recorded in the past few years.