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Residents demand transparency in mealie-meal distribution

by Staff reporter
21 Apr 2020 at 08:08hrs | Views
Bulawayo residents have complained over lack of consistency and transparency in the distribution of subsidised mealie-meal during the lockdown period now extended to May 3.

Subsidised roller meal is a rare commodity and where it is available on the black market, it is either priced beyond reach or strictly sold in cash, which is also not readily available.

This has seen many residents besiege retail shops, with snaking queues when the commodity is available, and in the process exposing many to the COVID-19 as social distancing etiquette is always not observed.

A zonal system to distribute the commodity in residential areas is now being implemented, but reports indicate that the process is being hampered by corruption involving community leaders and shop owners, according to a survey by the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA).

"... there are, however, unprincipled community and business leaders who have hijacked the process and are using it for rent-seeking purposes. The corrupt and partisan distribution of mealie-meal is a big push back on government efforts to combat the virus which does not discriminate according to colour, creed or ideology," the BPRA survey read.

"Reports from wards 3, 4, 10 and 15 indicate that there is lack of consistency and transparency in the sale of the much sought-after commodity with selection being left at the discretion of a few, with unchecked powers.

"In ward 3 (Mahatshula), residents have complained of hoarding of mealie-meal by some unscrupulous shop owners who sell fewer volumes and then announce to residents that mealie-meal has run out."

Government insists it is importing maize to ensure availability of mealie-meal, but it has been months with the commodity in short supply.

"In ward 4, residents in areas such as Sunninghill, Lochview, Matsheumhlophe and Riverside have complained over information blackout regarding the selling points and times for disbursement of mealie-meal and that the roller meal distribution roster for the ward is not publicly accessible," BPRA said.

"Residents have also raised concerns regarding the selected selling points that are neither central, nor accessible. Walking distances to access these selling points exposes them to the wrath of security forces, some of whom have acted with heavy handedness in dealing with residents suspected of violating the lockdown regulations."

Source - newsday