LOCAL Millers have threatened to take Agriculture minister Joseph Made to court over the issuance of permits for maize meal importation, saying the decision had put the lives of contract workers into turmoil and rendered the milling industry and farmers uncompetitive. Through its lawyer Tonderai Bhatasara of Mupanga Bhatasara Attorneys, the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe wrote to Made on the matter and threatened to drag him to court if no response was availed by Tuesday.
BY MOSES MATENGA
The letter from the millers’ lawyers reads: “We are advised that, Honourable Minister you have issued several import permits for maize-meal. We are further advised that the permit holders have started importing the maize-meal into Zimbabwe, especially the GMO type.”
“We advise the following: the decision to issue permits for [importation of] maize-meal as opposed to maize seed is unprecedented. The decision itself was made without consultation or regard to the rights of key shareholders like our client contrary to rules of natural justice and the administration justice Act.”
“The importation of maize meal will plunge contract farming into turmoil. The importation of maize-meal rendered the milling industry and farmers uncompetitive. Your decision Honourable Minister has also breached other constitutional rights of our client.”
Lawyers said their clients had instructed them to stop any further imports of maize meal and import permits be cancelled or suspended forthwith.
“We expect to receive written confirmation of the above by close of business on Tuesday May 19, 2015. We advise that if we do not receive any response by that date, our client will immediately seek redress through courts,” they said.
Millers who spoke to The Standard complained bitterly over the importation of maize-meal, saying it was affecting local growers.
“Imported maize meal is landing in Zimbabwe at a price of $310 per tonne. We can’t compete with such a low price when local farmers want a higher price for their maize of $320 per tonne,” a miller who requested anonymity said.
Maize-meal imports have taken up 55% of the local market share, forcing grain millers to produce only about 30% of their total production.