MUTARE, September 8 (The Source) – Central bank governor John Mangudya says maize imports have become a breeding ground for corruption, with licenced importers now reselling the grain to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) for profit.
Zimbabwe needs to import 700,000 tonnes of white maize, mainly from neighbouring Zambia, to avert a food crisis following a drought that affected crops in most parts of the country this season which left 1.5 million Zimbabweans needing food aid before the next harvest, according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
Government issued permits to individuals to facilitate the maize imports from Zambia; a development Mangudya said has created arbitrage opportunities for ‘greedy dealers.’
“Because of the price difference between GMB, which is paying $390 to farmers and imported price from Zambia, which varies between $240 to $250, the permits holders are now double dipping,” he told The Source during the Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) 75th annual congress last week.
“This is creating a hive of corruption. Who is benefiting here? It’s not the government, it’s greedy individuals who are benefitting at the expense of the farmers. GMB takes the maize thinking it’s coming from the farmers but it’s not, its imported maize. This should stop. It’s brewing more problems for the country,” he said.
Agriculture minister Joseph Made in May said the maize imports will cost the cash strapped government in excess of $200 million.
Mangudya last week said GMB has paid off $90 million of its debt to farmers and expects to clear of the remaining $14 million in the next two weeks, but added that the figure could grow because of imports.