Millers have threatened to sue Agriculture minister Joseph Made over his refusal to issue them with permits to import maize from South Africa, saying he risked plunging the country into a crisis.
By Moses Matenga
According to a letter written to Attorney General Prince Machaya, the millers feel Made’s refusal to issue the permits stemed from ignorance.
Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) deputy chairperson Thembinkosi Ndlovu wrote to Machaya on December 30 imploring him to properly advise Made.
GMAZ last week said the country only had eight weeks’ supply of maize left because Made was refusing to issue millers permits to import the staple food.
Ndlovu warned that food shortages had the potential to cause unrest in the country.
He said they resorted to writing to Machaya in his capacity as the principal legal advisor to President Robert Mugabe and government.
“We also write to put you on a 14-day notice that we shall be filing a court application in terms of Section 85 (1) of the constitution on urgent basis, seeking an order of mandamus to compel Hon Made to issue import permits for the importation of maize from South Africa and other countries to avert devastating hunger,” Ndlovu wrote.
“The social, economic and political upheaval that will ensue, as consequence to the food insecurity must be emphasised.”
He said Made had remained “intransigent and refused to issue permits for the importation of maize from South Africa without giving any reasons whatsoever.”
“The current situation points to a serious shortage of maize-meal and stock feeds which will cause serious shortages of basic foodstuffs such as eggs, milk, beef, pork and other related food commodities. Such a predicament will violate Section 15 (b) of the constitution,” he said.
“It is our sincere belief that the Hon minister of Agriculture has abdicated his responsibility in respect of this matter.
“We therefore, appeal to your esteemed office, Sir, to advise the Agriculture minister accordingly to issue the requisite maize import permits.
“With your anticipated co-operation, we believe that this litigation can be avoided.”
Zimbabwe imports most of its maize from South Africa and Zambia due to perennial poor harvests.