Written by on August 23, 2019

THEY say a hungry nation is an angry nation, and the current excessive mealie meal prices in Zambia should be a wakeup call to the government to act wisely and quickly.

President Frederick Chiluba (MHSRIEP) found himself in a similar situation in 2001 but he was wise enough and imported cheap mealie meal to counter the high cost of the staple diet to avoid a food crisis in Zambia.

It is also possible that the current high mealie meal prices, in an unregulated market, could be the work of enemies of a sitting government especially that 2021 is now sitting on the horizon.

In fact, Dr Chiluba did not beat about the bush on this direction when he blatantly accused his former ministers in the opposition of being responsible for the mess.

But to think that the price of 25 kg bag of mealie can today cost a whopping K160 is beyond any colour of imagination. It is pure insanity because very few Zambians can afford that. This is a patent truth.

We say so because how can, for instance, a family of five who probably consume three bags of mealie meal in a month survive in such a picture which does not include the cost of relish and other essential commodities like sugar, cooking oil, bread, bath soap, salt and other basics which are not cheap either?

There is also another prospect of milling firms forming up cartels to maximize profits by taking advantage of our liberalized market economy.

But whatever the case, the current mealie meal prices do not make any sense especially that Zambia still has sufficient stocks of maize. Something somewhere has gone offensively wrong and needs to be corrected quickly.

We also do not think that it is the issue of Zambians being lazy to produce maize and that the law of demand and supply should be allowed to do its work without the obligatory intervention.

Admittedly the starting point in reducing the price of mealie meal is price reduction of raw materials which is maize but it becomes another issue when some people appear to be deliberately coiling the issue in their favour.

For some of you who may not know it, there are no milling firms for mealie meal in neighbouring Malawi as people grow their own maize which they have processed at small milling plants.

Now if 50 percent of Zambians grew their own maize without even waiting for government’s farming inputs who is going to sell mealie meal at K160?

However nobody in Zambia can pretend that all is well as regard to the prices of our staple food because that will be like acting in a similar manner of the foolish Ostrich which buries its head in the sand.

As Zambia is not an island, it is also possible that what happens in other countries around us where mealie meal is also a key food, can also affect us in terms of pricing structure.

We hear that the cost of everything from farming inputs to fuel is cheap in South Africa yet the cost of a 10kg bag of breakfast maize meal costs R60.00 or K52.00. In Namibia a 12.5kg bag costs R62.00 or K53.

The crux of matter is that whenever such sensitive issues arise and which could threaten the security of the nation, it is important for the government of the day to act decisively in the interest of its citizens.

Yes, Zambia can for instance, explore the possibility of importing large quantities of cheap maize from countries like Brazil if that will help lower its skyrocketing mealie meal prices.

There is every need to bring sanity in our mealie meal pricing structures so that no one gets angry and shame those who may be harbouring ulterior-motives to create anarchy in the nation.

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