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Msika orders probe into grain distribution

Mthulisi Mathuthu

Vice-President Joseph Msika has ordered investigations into the distribution of grain by the national food task force after allegations of unfairness in the allocation

of grain.

Sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that Msika ordered the probe at a meeting in Bula-wayo two weeks ago after complaints by millers that there were malpractices in the distribution of grain with big companies getting preferential treatment.

Task force chairman, Retired Major-General Ammoth Chingombe, last week warned unnamed “big fish” against interfering with the distribution of food in the Matabeleland area.

Chingombe was quoted as warning “all the big fishes (to) keep away from the distribution of maize”.

Zanu PF deputy national commissar Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, who attended the meeting, told the Independent last week that millers had indeed complained to the party’s leadership about grain distribution but refused to shed more light.

“Yes we have received many complaints from those people (millers),” said Ndlovu. “But there is nothing I can tell you because the task force is the one which can speak to you. Ask them what the problem is all about.”

Chingombe last week told the Independent that the task force was distributing food within its jurisdiction.

“Our position is clear on this matter,” said Chingombe. “We are distributing food and we don’t want to be disturbed. The suspension as we said is temporary,” he said.

The task force suspended selling of maize to millers three weeks ago citing rampant profiteering. The maize is now sold direct to individuals.

The millers appealed to Msika and other politburo members during their meeting in Bulawayo to intervene alleging that the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) was clandestinely selling grain to millers from outside the province.

The millers alleged that there were big millers from outside the city who were being given preferential treatment by the task force.

“It’s totally unfair because big companies from outside here are being allowed to buy grain and they are stocking it in anticipation of price increases which will be announced soon,” said a leading miller from Bulawayo.

The GMB has increased the price of maize to millers from $9 600 to $211 756 a tonne. Wheat shot up from $30 100 to $366 584.

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