WE could be facing a new era of very expensive mealie-meal, says Socialist Party president Fred M’membe.
He says if current trends are any indication, “these trends are likely to bring plenty of political instability in their wake”.
“There should be no room for complacency. These mealie-meal prices are now at very dangerous levels and it is also clear that they are causing a lot of pain and suffering for poor people,” Dr M’membe said. “As usual, it is the poorest of the poor – those who spend the largest proportions of their day-to-day incomes on mealie-meal – who are hit the hardest.”
He warned that high mealie-meal prices would drive more people into poverty.
“The shortage of maize leading to a shortage of mealie-meal and rising mealie-meal prices can have a devastating effect on the health of poor households by making it more difficult for them to afford,” Dr M’membe said. “A sharp rise in mealie-meal prices significantly affects household consumption and nutrition. Our government needs to reallocate resources immediately to make maize and mealie-meal available and to agriculture to spur agriculture productivity.”
He said sharp rises in mealie-meal prices significantly burden poor households.
Dr M’membe urged the government to mitigate the impact of price increases and volatility by providing cost-effective, targeted assistance to those in need, rather than wait for market forces.
He noted that one effect of higher mealie-meal prices is higher consumer price index (CPI) inflation.
“Under this government, increases in mealie-meal prices will continue to have a tremendous impact on our economy and our lives. While it is impossible to project just how long these increases will last and how deep of an effect they will have on the economy, we need to be prepared to protect ourselves against these heightened mealie-meal price levels,” Dr M’membe said. “Mealie-meal prices are shooting up to levels unseen in this country. We could be facing a new era of very expensive mealie-meal. If current trends are any indication, these trends are likely to bring plenty of political instability in their wake. High mealie-meal prices are going to drive more people into poverty.”
He called for rethinking “our” approach.
“The problem is that rising mealie-meal prices like these have knock-on effects. When it comes to other commodities, these markets are very interlinked. So the price of chickens and eggs, pork, beef and even fish goes up as the price of stock feed increases, and that’s affected by the price of maize,” noted Dr M’membe. “The skyrocketing mealie-meal prices are having many unexpected side effects. We need to invest in boosting agricultural productivity.”