Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) President Tafadzwa Musarara has blamed Zimbabwe’s volatile exchange rate and late payments by major retail outlets for recent shortages and price hikes of mealie-meal.
With the ZWL fast losing value, retailers much like every other business have abandoned Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s (RBZ) interbank exchange rate in order to offset any likely loss.
That has however extensively hiked prices of basics, including mealie meal, the staple diet for Zimbabweans.
Musarara said Zimbabwe had enough mealie-meal but was being affected by the rate and also late payments by leading retail outlets, usually in local currency.
He further explained why mealie-meal was easily accessible in smaller outlets, arguing they paid for deliveries upfront and in hard currency.
“It is not disputed that the country has adequate supplies of maize and wheat and the milling industry’s capacity dwarfs demand. The major challenge is the issue of exchange rates between the USD and the local currency.
“This is affecting pricing, with mainstream retailers and informal shops pricing differently. We have a 10kg costing US$8.90 in main retail shops and US$4.75 in the informal market.
“Millers are now unable to give payment terms to big retailers. It’s now either 100% upfront or at best Cash-On-Delivery (COD). This explains the depleted stocks in big retail shops who are insisting on terms.”
Disparity between the interbank rate, black market and a yet-to-be-identified rate being used by retailers has worsened the situation.
Mealie-meal is one of the many basics affected by the situation; prices of cooking oil, sugar and rice among others have been hiked.