CHURCHES have vowed to pressure President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to come up with strict measures to ensure that all millers who get grain under the government maize subsidy programme sell mealie-meal at subsidised prices.

Speaking to NewsDay after the national executive meeting of the Zimbabwe Amalgamated Churches Council (Zacc), a grouping of indigenous churches, held in Harare on Thursday last week, patron of the grouping Jimayi Muduvuri said the churches had resolved to push Mnangagwa to ensure that subsidised commodities remain affordable.

The call comes at a time maize meal is in short supply and mostly found on the black market.

“This year, as churches, through our branch of consumer power, we will work tirelessly to make sure that government acts to ensure that the prices of commodities from companies that are supported by government remain low,” Muduvuri said.

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“Right now, mealie-meal is in short supply and can only be found on the black market highly priced yet some millers are getting subsidised maize. This should come to an end.”

Last month, the government scrapped maize subsidies, but reintroduced them after a public outcry over high prices. To control the prices, government introduced a roller meal subsidy programme that required millers to be registered with the Industry and Commerce ministry.

However, the Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ), a voluntary business organisation representing the interests of millers, raised the red flag after 60 of its members were denied registration, claiming the registration process was clandestinely done to favour big companies, leaving small-scale millers in the cold.

This, GMAZ said, was creating an artificial shortage of the staple food. Muduvuri said the wave of price hikes, especially on the staple food was synonymous with exposing the population to a new wave of economic sanctions.

“We are crying against the Western-imposed sanctions on the country, but the prices by profiteering businesses in Zimbabwe are a form of sanctions on the population,” he said.