[By Ben Mbangu in Choma and Edwin Mbulo in Livingstone]
A CRITICAL shortage of mealie-meal has hit Choma.
A check by The Mast found Choma Milling outlet, Spar and National Milling did not have the staple food while only one retail shop Tunjile Enterprise offloaded a few bags, which caused commotion and was going at K175 per 25kg bag.
“Yes, we have run out of mealie-meal in our stock as a result of non-supply from our main supplier Choma Milling. We are told they don’t have maize but as soon as they source maize, supply will resume. As for other millers outside Choma, these just supplement Choma Milling. Otherwise in this case whatever is offloaded gets finished within hours,” Spar sales manager Thula Matyani said.
At National Milling outlet, an employee who sought anonymity said the outlet ran out of the commodity two days ago but was expecting supply “possibly Friday (today) afternoon”.
Meanwhile, three traditional leaders in the district have expressed concern that the hunger situation in the area might greatly affect the 2019/2020 farming season if the government continues turning a blind eye to the problem.
Headman Lupata of Macha chiefdom appealed to the government to listen to the cry of the people in the area about the hunger situation.
He feared that mealie meal would become unaffordable due to the shortage of maize.
“In times of difficulties we cry to our government. President Edgar Lungu is just like any other former president who in their time also the country had hunger situations but they addressed the situation with passion without politicising it as the case now,” said Lupata.
Headman Siasikabole said: “It’s not possible for people to buy farming inputs and scout for mealie-meal which is in short supply. At the same time, animals are dying of diseases, the e-voucher system is only benefiting agro dealers. We have not seen relief maize yet in villages. Let government feed people since it says it has enough food.”
Headman Mandala of Mapanza chiefdom said a good leader always listens to people’s cries.
Meanwhile, mealie-meal prices have risen to between K190 to K200 in Livingstone.
A survey by The Mast in Livingstone revealed that some traders, especially at Chandamali Market in Nottie Broadie area, have taken advantage of the shortage of the National Milling brand to peg the price at K200 for a 25 kilogramme bag of breakfast and K190 for roller meal.
In the main business centre, there was almost a stampede at Shoprite on Thursday for the product, which was being sold at almost K180 for a 25 kilogramme bag of breakfast meal.
At Total filling station, No 1 breakfast mealie-meal was costing K185.
At Spar, there was panic buying of National Milling breakfast mealie-meal which was pegged at K165 while No 1 roller meal in the same outlet was pegged at K167.
UPND’s Southern Province secretary Winnerson Ng’uni said the mealie-meal price hikes were as a result of a failed leadership of the PF which gave a deaf ear to advise not to sale maize.
“The PF is insensitive and full of lies. Their leader, Edgar Lungu, does not want to listen to advice, especially when it comes from the opposition especially from Hakainde Hichilema,” said Ng’uni.