ESTHER MSETEKA, Mpulungu
GOVERNMENT has unearthed a racket in which mealie-meal being produced from subsidised maize in Northern Province is being exported to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by some traders.
About 52 metric tonnes of mealie-meal (3,100 bags) intended for export to the DRC has since been impounded, Mpulungu district commissioner Dennis Sikazwe has confirmed.
The contraband was confiscated last week Thursday, and is currently in a warehouse at Mpulungu Harbour.
Mr Sikazwe said the mealie-meal was bought by Maronka Enterprises from Kasama Milling Company, a firm that is benefiting from Governmentâ€™s subsidised maize. The local market price for Kasama Milling-mealie-meal is K75 per 25Kg.
However, Mr Sikazwe said the mealie-meal was confiscated because Maronka Enterprises was mopping out subsidised mealie-meal to export it to the non-intended market.
â€œWe have impounded 52 metric tonnes of mealie-meal which was destined for Congo. Maronka got the permits and they were genuine, but the issue of concern is the source of the mealie-meal. Our concern is that they were getting mealie-meal from a Government-subsidised milling company,â€ he said.
Mr Sikawe said Maronka Enterprises has been asked to sell the seized mealie-meal locally at the recommended K75 retail price per 25Kg for subsidised commodities.
Efforts to get a comment from Maronka Enterprises failed as the man who was found watching over the mealie-meal said he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Addressing journalists here on Tuesday, Mr Sikazwe further disclosed that a boat that was trying to smuggle 90 bags of mealie-meal out of the country was intercepted by a district joint operation team last Sunday.
He said it is unfortunate to see traders allegedly abuse a Government initiative aimed at reducing hunger by making the staple food affordable.
He said business houses should desist from exporting subsidised mealie-meal when the local people are in need of the commodity given a crop yield deficit occasioned by the poor rainfall pattern.
â€œNow if people start exporting the mealie-meal that Government is spending a lot of money on, we will have no other option but to ensure that the law takes its course,â€ he said.
Mr Sikazwe further urged traders to ensure that subsidised mealie-meal is sold at the recommended K75 retail price. He observed that some traders were selling the subsidised commodity for K100.
ESTHER MSETEKA, Mpulungu