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Small millers stop politics...people want mealie meal!

01 May 2020 at 09:06hrs | Views
Goal 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals speaks to the need to End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. Goal 2 seeks sustainable solutions to end hunger in all its forms by 2030 and to achieve food security. The aim is to ensure that everyone everywhere has enough good-quality food to lead a healthy life. Food security is not about profits but must be entrenched in the need to end hunger amongst our people.

Currently there are serious maize shortages and it does not help that the shortages have created a black market which has been fueled by a natural need for profit amongst the unemployed traders.

The milling industry is currently dominated by Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe GMAZ who are the largest Millers in size and market share of the market. There is a new kid on the block known as the Small to Medium Millers Association of Zimbabwe SMMAZ. This new association currently has less than 1% of total market and a membership base of less than 40 Millers.

Millers play a pivotal role in the food security matrix and by right they should speak with one voice as they are faced with the same challenges and concerns across board.

Zimbabwe is currently faced with maize shortages and delivery delays caused by covid 19 and other factors. Millers traditionally rely on the Grain Marketing Board GMB, but GMB is currently faced by severe challenges leaving Millers to source their own grain using free funds.

GMAZ currently has more maize in land than GMB or any other trader. Millers should have United and synchronised systems to ensure that the nation is flooded with maize. Flooding the market is the only way to successfully combat the black market.

The SMMAZ statement

This article was inspired by an unfortunate social media message allegedly penned by a SMMAZ representative. The message was attacking GMAZ over the zonal distribution program among other things.

The message read :

As far as SMMAZ is concerned:

1. 17 April 2020: The grain producer price was increased to $12329.00. GMB was instructed to increase price to millers accordingly.

2. 22 April 2020: There was a price moratorium on selected items, including  maize meal, hence presumably grain price, to prices of 25 March 2020. The price of roller meal and grain were ZWL$70.00/kg and    ZWL$6958/ton respectively. We are not aware of any miller that purchased maize at $12 329.00 nor quoted maize by GMB at that price.

3. 29 April 2020: Government halted all grain supplies to Millers. Grain supplies should resume 1st week of May 2020.

Since Gvt halted maize to millers, I wonder why GMAZ wants to make it seem like they have stopped the supply themselves. Its their usual grandstanding antiques I suppose.

Besides GMAZ donated 40000 which they were told to mill if it was ever available. Surely that 40000 should not be affected by any price increase. So why are they stopping.

Moreover just yesterday GMAZ was making pronouncements of door to door deliveries, after making pronouncements of a glorified "ZONE DELIVERIES" program. Now they have all of a sudden halted!? There is no consistency in GMAZ pronouncements on Zimbabwe’s staple food. This will soon prove to be dangerous and irresponsible. Why cause panic amongst the people.

In my view there is  simply lack of formal communication of the price moratorium to GMB by Government and that is what needs to be addressed, not  statements of perceived power that will cause people to panic.

The facts
SMMAZ has a right to exercise its freedom of expression. It is unfortunate that they chose to express this right and use it to denigrate a rival group. SMMAZ seems to be in the habit of antagonising GMAZ maybe it's part of their marketing and PR strategy. They have become the Nandos of the milling industry. Courting attention at all costs.

It is disheartening though that SMMAZ in the statement are seemingly bad mouthing GMAZ. CZI and ZNCC have never come out attacking the other. Industry groups have found ways of coexisting and speaking with one voice.

SMMAZ is not a first time antagonist, they pulled the same trick during the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture were they raised all sorts of allegations against GMAZ without bringing any concrete proof to the table.

GMAZ as an association has pulled together resources to allow a zonal maize distribution program. SMMAZ should be leveraging on the capacity and ability of GMAZ and use the said leverage to cater for SMMAZ's client base.

The Bible says 2 are better than one and in this moment of lockdown induced shortages there is need for the nation to pull together in one direction.

I cannot speak authoritatively on behalf of GMAZ but it any business when prices go up, a business will temporarily halt operations and recalibrate its figures to factor in the replacement value.

The term replacement cost or replacement value refers to the amount that an entity would have to pay to replace a product at the present time, according to its current worth. After all, when product is exhausted the business will need to restock at new prices. Replacement value is

SMMAZ says it has raised 31 tonnes for the vulnerable and they have donated 5 of these tonnes to the Minister of State for Bulawayo Province. The same SMMAZ has also announced that it will engage in a ward distribution program.

GMAZ has not come out to criticize or bad mouth SMMAZ. SMMAZ also announced a sticker on subsidy maize meal in a bid to tackle black market. Stickers are noble but they do not fix the supply side of the problem.

SMMAZ has not told the nation how much maize they have in stock, where it is stocked and how or when they will distribute it to the targeted wards.

SMMAZ in their alleged  statement claim that there is lack of formal communication of the price moratorium to GMB by Government. The same government which announced a national lockdown via television announced a price moratorium via television. Unless if SMMAZ is implying that GMB is undermining the authority of the Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Hon. K. D. Mohadi. It was VP Mohadi who announced the Price moratorium, is that not a formal communication enough?

How come SMMAZ was not at the Price moratorium presser? Were they even involved or consulted? Is SMMAZ working with the Ministry of Industry or they are building a relationship limited to GMB? Which other industry body is SMMAZ affiliated to? Besides the stickers and the mere 100 tonnes they plan to raise, what else are they doing to ensure food security in Zimbabwe?

Winter wheat cropping season is upon us, is SMMAZ making any contribution towards the winter ploughing, are they even involved in milling other grain or their focus is on wheat?

While we have seen GMAZ for and over the 27 million wheat debate, we have also seen GMAZ in other positive pieces, where they have worked with farmers, buying local wheat, facilitating winter wheat cropping, assisting command agriculture, donating to cyclone Idai victims and several other things. We have seen the good and the bad about GMAZ and we have confidence in GMAZ and its activities. Yes there are tensions and friction but you can always trust GMAZ to deliver.

SMMAZ should do more and not act as a popular local opposition party which seeks to throw spanners or Jecha into the work of a rival group. Has SMMAZ imported any grain to beef up GMB stocks? What has SMMAZ achieved in its own corner. The public is hungry for positive stories and results. Cheap propaganda won't give Mgcini in Nkulumane any mealie meal to feed his family of 6.

There are no points to be scored in propaganda wars. The real points are in getting product to the people at an affordable price. If SMMAZ has the capacity and resources to flood the market then by all means we encourage them to do so. Healthy competition is necessary in the fight against food shortages and the black market. Can Millers let their results speak for themselves. We have seen GMAZ trucks offloading maize meal in Manicaland, Matebeleland, Mashonaland West and other areas, can we also see SMMAZ trucks doing the same in their areas.


People want maize meal at an affordable price and not cheap propaganda. The only reward will be from a satisfied market.

SMMAZ is still too new on the market and rather too small to seek to outshine or bad mouth GMAZ. In all honesty GMAZ literally fathered SMMAZ. If my memory serves me well the founder of SMMAZ admitted before Parliament that he was a member of GMAZ though he wasn't paying any subscription fees. It is sad that SMMAZ walked out of GMAZ to only throw shade at GMAZ. We wish to see results.

As an upcoming Miller I was tempted to join SMMAZ but the bad blood between SMMAZ and GMAZ is retrogressive, maybe I should create my own and call it the Micro to Small Millers Association of Zimbabwe MSMZ.

Zimbabwe needs action which produces results. The new dispensation is a result oriented government.

Mxolisi Mathonsi
Farmer and Aspiring Miller

Source - Mxolisi Mathonsi
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