Zimbabwe sets up maize-meal task force

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HARARE  – As food shortages continue to bite millions of Zimbabweans amidst perennial drought and a dismal economic performance, the government has established a task force to monitor and ensure the transparent and equitable distribution of maize-meal.

The state-owned Herald newspaper reported on Friday that the task force, headed by industry and commerce deputy minister Raji Modi, would track retailers to curb the diversion of the staple food to a thriving black market. The country is also experiencing panic buying as individuals try to stock up due to uncertainty over supply.

According to the publication, maize-meal, which is not always available in shops, is readily available on the informal market but at almost double the gazette price. The government subsidy for the product is paid directly to millers who provide proof that they have milled and made the deliveries.

Last year Hilal Elver, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food, said the southern African nation was on the brink of man-made starvation with close to 60 percent of the population food-insecure. The UN envoy made the remarks after an 11-day tour of parts of the country worst hit by El Niño-induced drought.

Elver said the widespread food insecurity was being exacerbated by hyperinflation in Zimbabwe. – African News Agency/ANA