In a startling revelation, the New Heritage Party (NHP) has raised concerns about a mealie meal deal involving the ruling United Party for National Development (UPND) government.
The NHP has cautioned the Zambian public, alleging that the government’s recent actions are marked by duplicity, connivance, and corruption.
In a statement issued by New Heritage Party President, CHISHALA KATEKA, the controversy centers on the government’s announcement of reductions in the price of mealie meal from Zambia National Service (ZNS) and “Allied Millers,” as well as the Shop Rite chain stores.
While the NHP acknowledges the importance of measures to alleviate economic hardships, they contend that the UPND government’s motives are suspect.
The government claims that a 25 kg bag of breakfast meal has a real cost of production at K180, with a markup of K30, aimed at benefiting millers and retailers. However, the NHP argues that this move is a desperate attempt to regain political favor amid increasing public discontent with the UPND government.
The NHP points out that the same government recently directed millers to purchase surplus maize from farmers at prices higher than what the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) was offering.
This move was aimed at ensuring a secure supply of maize on the market. The government has consistently emphasized that the FRA is not a market player but a strategic reserve.
The NHP questions why the government has breached the national granary if there is no maize shortage on the market.
Furthermore, the NHP raises concerns about the government’s intervention in the market, which contradicts its purported pro-business stance.
The move to fix mealie meal prices below the market rate is expected to leave independent millers with unsellable stock and financial challenges. This could lead to mill closures, job losses, and a shortage of mealie meal.
The NHP views this deal as a breeding ground for corruption and a lack of transparency in the procurement, selection, and engagement of ZNS, “Allied Millers,” and Shop Rite stores.
They call on the government to provide evidence of a public and transparent tender process for selecting these entities, including unnamed obscure ones.
The NHP questions why only one foreign-owned retail outlet has been contracted, excluding Zambian businesses. They express concerns about the UPND government’s apparent inclination toward foreign interests at the expense of local businesses.
The party emphasizes the importance of supporting Zambian businesses to foster economic growth and retain foreign exchange within the country.
The NHP deems the government’s mealie meal deal as unsustainable and fraught with problems. They call on the government to halt the deal immediately and pursue a more transparent, sustainable, and inclusive solution that benefits all stakeholders and ensures the welfare of the Zambian people.