BULAWAYO residents have accused some retail shop owners of abusing the subsidised mealie-meal facility by forcing consumers to buy other goods in order for them to be able to purchase the commodity.


Residents told Southern Eye that supermarket owners forced them to buy other goods worth over $20 in order to be able to buy a 10kg mealie-meal bag priced at $49,50.

“Government must do something to protect us since this is its subsidised mealie-meal,” a consumer said.

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Matabeleland chairperson Brighton Ncube confirmed receiving the reports.

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“A complaint we have received so far is that customers are being asked to buy other goods by wholesalers before proceeding to buy mealie-meal. From an economic point of view, this actually makes sense because the whole point of a wholesale is to sell goods in bulk as they derive their profit from there,” Ncube said.

“However, for the retail shops, it is not proper. Customers should not be compelled because these retailers buy from wholesalers and their role is to sell single goods to customers.”

He said the problem was emanating from the fact that the subsidised mealie-meal was in short supply.

Consumer Council of Zimbabwe national chairperson Philip Bvumbe said conditional selling of mealie-meal was illegal.

“Conditional selling of goods is prohibited and is very illegal, according to the new Consumer Protection Act, which was recently passed. Companies can be arrested and their licences can be cancelled when they abuse consumers,” he said.

“The Consumer Protection Act can send people to jail. It’s not a Mickey Mouse thing. There is consumer power, consumers must act in a proper manner and those shops doing that, their licences can be revoked.”