New year, new reduced mealie-meal prices


WE welcome the decision by millers to reduce mealie-meal prices as advised by President Sata last week.
No matter what other people may think, mealie-meal, which is used to make nshima, is our staple food.

Some Zambians feel without eating nshima, then they have not eaten anything.
The eating of nshima makes most Zambians feel complete even if they have eaten other foods at lunch or supper.
This is simply the Zambian nature in most homes which cherish nshima.
Over-pricing of mealie meal always becomes a political issue which cannot even be avoided by the head of State.
The Zambian history is rich with controversy which surrounds the over-pricing of mealie meal.
We remember how the UNIP government in the 1990s became extremely unpopular when it could not control the price of mealie meal, making those who do not partake in nshima wonder why Zambians love this thick porridge.
But just like we cannot condemn those who love rice or bread for lunch or supper, Zambians cannot be condemned for loving their nshima.
This is why we commend the millers for swiftly responding to the President’s clarion call for a reduction in mealie-meal prices to make the commodity affordable.
On Thursday, President Sata had threatened to reintroduce price controls if they continued hiking mealie-meal prices indiscriminately.
He also threatened to revoke licences of millers selling a 50-kilogramme bag of breakfast mealie meal above K50,000.
But it did not take long for the millers to respond to the President’s call to reduce the prices.
On Friday, Millers Association of Zambia acting vice-president Chisha Phiri said the ex-factory price of the commodity is now between K45,000 and  K50,000.
He said although the millers were not making a profit, they resolved to respond to the Head of State.
Mr Phiri went further to advise that there will be need for dialogue between Government and millers, especially in other towns where traders may not reduce the price of mealie-meal.
We also support this call for dialogue because it can bring out many burning issues affecting the operations and profitability of milling companies.
If dialogue is initiated, Government might probably find many ways of addressing some of the concerns of the millers.
This might even result in the mealie-meal prices going further down to enable the most common person to afford the commodity.
The millers have disclosed that their ex-factory price of mealie meal is between K45,000 and K50,000.
This brings the question why the traders are selling a bag of mealie meal at over K70,000 in some cases.
Who is supposed to ensure that consumers are not over-charged?
These are some of the questions which are supposed to be tackled during the process of dialogue so that Zambians are not exploited.
But for now, we welcome the way the millers have responded to President Sata’s call for a reduction in mealie-meal prices.
Most Zambians will definitely enter the New Year tomorrow, knowing they will have a bag of mealie-meal in their home