Smuggling of mealie meal in Mpulungu worries Local

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Mpulungu area Member of Parliament Freedom Sikazwe says smuggling of mealie meal has reached alarming levels in Mpulungu District.

Mr Sikazwe who is also Lusaka Province Minister said the situation is alarming as the trend was causing an artificial shortage of the commodity in the area.

He told ZANIS in an interview in Kasama over the weekend that 406 bags of mealie meal was confiscated on Thursday last week from people who wanted to smuggle the commodity into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.

Mr Sikazwe said about five smugglers were nabbed by alert people in Mpulungu as they tried to smuggle two boats full of mealie meal into the Congo and were taken to the harbour.

He said the customs where currently dealing with the matter.

The Mpulungu legislator said government was getting concerned with the development as it was spending lot of money in trying to bring the price of mealie meal down.

He said government was subsidising the price of maize so that consumers in the country can access mealie meal at an affordable price.

He said the situation has the potential to compromise food security in the country.

Mr Sikazwe said it is unfortunate that a few greedy individuals were aiding foreigners to smuggle the commodity at the expense of the majority Zambians.

He said it was  ironic that the same people who cried the loudest when the area experienced mealie meal shortage were the same people who are helping foreigners to smuggle the commodity.

Mr Sikazwe noted that people were smuggling mealie meal at will.

He noted that at one milling company, some foreigners were using the local people to buy mealie meal and thereafter stock pile for smuggling.

Mr Sikazwe noted that it was not normal that the same milling  company would sale between 1000  and 1500 bags a day saying the likely explanation is that the local people were been used to purchase the commodity which the foreign traders would later smuggle out of the country.

He stressed that the mealie meal shortage in Mpulungu is artificial.