Zimbabwe has been plagued by a shortage of mealie ever since the government removed subsidies and then hastily reversed the move.
The chaos was precipitated by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube when he lifted all subsidies on the country’s staple apparently, without consulting his boss President Emmerson Mnangagwa. After Mthuli Ncube’s announcement, the price of meal mealie skyrocketed and doubled to around Z$100 for a 10-kilogram packet, leading to cries of anguish from the people.
Mnangagwa later said that he was unhappy about the development and subsequently threw Ncube under the bus at a rally in Karoi The President stated that the Mthuli had not consulted him and that his policy was causing many to suffer. He then ordered the government to reintroduce the subsidy which would allow citizens to pay Z$50 for a 10-kilogram packet.
However, ever since the reintroduction of the subsidy, mealie meal has become a scarce commodity and seems to be only available on the black market. Retailers are now selling the none-subsidized mealie meal which is going for upwards of $130-00 for a 10-kilogram packet. In fact, mealie meal has joined fuel as one of the commodities which are in chronic short supply on the formal markets but are readily available for a premium on the black market.
The government has even introduced roller meal committees to ensure the availability of the product.
Many have blamed the government for the shortages, citing rampant corruption and mismanagement. Businessman and social media personality, Kuda Musasiwa also took to social media to explain how mealie meal has become like fuel in that only people who are connected to top government officials seem to benefit. Below is Musasiwa’s explanation,
A small thread on how Mealie meal has become the new Fuel in Zimbabwe!
So the government removed subsidy on Maize meal through the Minister’s budget. The President then went on national TV and revoked the removal, and promised to revert to sub prices.
The Gov then imports Maize at about $9000 per Ton then wants it sold at $4000, Only gives a very select few the license and subsidy and ban all other millers from publically buying or selling maize at market price.
Gov then delay paying the sub to millers with red tape and paperwork, meaning retailers (like me) can NOT get the subbed mealie meal from any dealer officially to sell the $10kg at the gazetted $50.
Millers then attempt to sell retailers the Hupfu at the market price of $92 per $10kg or $3.80 USD. But then tell you, due to Hupfu being gov controlled, they can’t give you a true invoice of the cost you pay.
Clever people (read: connected to gov) who hoarded and knew the gap now sell the subbed product for real value on the streets for $70 CASH, then sell the cash for 150%, then go buy subbed product again. And Viola, Hupfu is the new FUEL.
PS: The Maize farmer is the biggest loser here!