Vulnerable people in Harare are calling for the government’s intervention on the distribution of subsidised maize meal as they are struggling to access it at their local supermarkets.
People in high residential areas like Kuwadzwana 5 have accused supermarkets of selling larger quantities of maize meal to their relatives and colleagues and diverting it to the black market instead of selling it to the poor and vulnerable people who are supposed to benefit from it.
State of the Nation visited at OK supermarket in Kuwadzana 5 where subsidised maize meal was being sold and found out that some of the residents had woke up as early as 3 am to join the queue but were not yet served by the time the crew arrived at 11 am.
People who spoke to this publication said the chaos at the shop led to the formation of three queues, one for civil servants, one for the general people, and another one for “V.I.P’s”.
The V.I.P queue is alleged to be the one that was being served with some taking home 2 or more bags of maize meal when others were failing to buy.
“There is an uneven distribution of maize meal here. Those in the V.I.P queue are the ones taking all the maize meal and we are failing to get the chance to buy it. Some are event taking two or more bags which is not fair. If you come tomorrow, the same people will be here to buy again and we continue failing to get the chance to buy resulting in us starving” said an old man who refused to be named.
Another man said he could not get the chance to buy the subsidised maize meal even though he woke up at 3 am to join the queue as it will be sold out before he reaches the entrance of the shop.
“I woke up at 3 am to join the queue because I have run out of maize meal at home. As you can see, I am one of the people in front of the line but the maize meal was sold out before I even reached the entrance. I suspect the shop is holding back some of the products because they can not tell us that they have sold out the maize meal when only a few people were served. What surprised me is that the same faces are buying maize meal every day while we fail to access it” he said.
Another man said he has developed severe back pains because of waiting for long hours in the queue every day, only to be told that the maize meal is sold out and pleaded for the government to intervene to ensure that it is distributed evenly.
“I have waited here for too long and I have now developed severe back pains. I feel pity for mothers that are nursing their babies and the elders who come here every day to queue for the product they never get the chance to buy because some people are being given first preference. Our government must do something because we are starving” he said.
The Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Professor Paul Mavima, told State Of The Nation that the government is aware of the problems that are being encountered by the vulnerable people and they are currently working on something to increase the supply of the subsidised maize meal in local supermarkets.
“I am in consultation with the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Agriculture to come up with a solution, but I cannot give you the details before the approval of His. Excellence and the Cabinet, but we are working on something to make sure that we put more roller meal on the market and distribute it as widely as possible so that people cannot jostle to get that the subsided roller meal.
“We are working on a solution now because the private millers have been supplying very little roller meal hence the stampede at the supermarket,” he said.
The government introduced the subsidised maize meal to ensure that citizens have access to cheaper basic foodstuffs.