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Mealie-meal prices to remain dependent on market forces – millers

MILLERS Association of Zambia president Andrew Chintala says the price of mealie-meal will remain unpredictable and dependant on market forces.

Chintala in an interview said the price of mealie-meal had nothing to do with the opposition parties’ influence on millers.

“How many millers do we have in Zambia? Whenever there are price changes, people always find a way to talk. What brought the change was the market forces. How does the opposition leader come into the equation? Only that people tend to find a reason whenever things are happening,” Chintala said.

“I’m not aware of any milling company that the opposition leader owns for us to be able to connive. We work with the governments of the day. We are a private sector in business to produce mealie-meal for business and as such we don’t mix business with politics. We engage government because they drive the policies. Those allegations are unfounded and must be dismissed.”

He said the meetings they had were only to help the stability of the price and not reduction.

“Let’s understand the market. When the minister announced, and the PS, that we had met as stakeholders to discuss and see how best we could stabilise the mealie-meal price, it wasn’t about reduction,” he said.

“Government got concerned with the escalation of the mealie-meal prices and we came together to find out what was causing this and what was causing that was that maize prices were going up almost on a daily basis and there was panic buying on the market amongst millers and other players because something circulated in some section of the media suggesting that we did not have enough maize stock and it triggered some panic buying.”

Chintala said panic buying had also pushed prices up.

“So government came in and was able to provide the statistics in terms of what the country was holding and because of that confidence, there was no need for us to engage into panic buying, so we have seen stability in terms of the prices of the commodity,” said Chintala.

“We hope as we get to the close of the season, things will stabilize. Its quite difficult [to see prices of mealie-meal reduce] because the current prices, behaviour or trend on the market is out of the market forces so I cannot predict that….”

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