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'Maize being smuggled to DRC from Zimbabwe'

by Staff reporter
19 Feb 2020 at 06:49hrs | Views
LOCAL small-scale millers yesterday sensationally accused large milling companies of collecting subsidised maize from the Grain Marketing Board and smuggling it to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) at a time the country was facing an acute shortage of mealie-meal.

Parliament also heard that the big millers were also allegedly processing some the maize into other fast-moving products other than mealie-meal.

The alleged scam was disclosed in Parliament when millers appeared before the Justice Wadyajena led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands and Agriculture to give oral evidence on the challenges that they were facing.

The committee also wanted to gather evidence on how the US$27 million that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe allegedly allocated to the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) was distributed.

GMAZ has however denied receiving US$27 million from the central bank for acquisition of maize.

While big millers did not specify challenges that they were experiencing in grain acquisition, Wayne Moss of Machiorees Investments t/a Mr Brands and David Muhambi of United Milling Company claimed there were leakages in the grain industry.

Moss said he wrote to the Grain Marketing Board complaining that there was no level playing field in the market.

He said GMB general manager, Lawrence Jasi told him to go through GMAZ to get subsidised maize at US$240 per tonne instead of US$270 on the market.

"But there is abuse of the maize subsidy by various industry players and there is also abuse within the GMB in terms of who gets what allocation. The big millers are using roller meal to process other things. If you investigate you will find evidence of subsidised maize going to the DRC," Moss claimed.

Muhambi said GMB would come to inspect millers' plants to get a rating and the number of machines one has.

"The biggest plant gets a larger consignment of 600 000 tonnes per week and smaller plants get less. But out of the 600 000 tonnes where is the other 400 000 tonnes going to? We hear all sorts of stories that some of the maize is then sold to bigger millers who use it to process other things which are not maize meal to make profit," he alleged.

The committee also heard that trucks from DRC which transport copper to South Africa are cleared at the Zimbabwean border "carrying maize stocks" but would then load the grain in Harare which they take to Lubumbashi.

In an interview with NewsDay Muhambi said the shortages of grain in the country were mainly due to a deficit in the region.

"We have spoken to the Ministry of Industry to say there should be efficient distribution of grain and that the price must be fair because foreigners are purchasing it and selling it for more," he said.

Source - newsday