Home » Business » Maize-Meal Imports Rile Food and Allied Workers

Food and Allied Industry workers have threatened to demonstrate against maize-meal imports if Government fails to immediately put measures to curb them.

The workers say the influx of imported maize- meal is threatening their jobs and want the Government to act immediately.

They have already sought audience with the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Dr Joseph Made to share their “agonies”. The sector has about 7 000 formally employed people.

“There’s anxiety in the industry as workers are not sure whether their jobs are safe. If he (the minister) chooses to ignore our request (for audience) we will have no other option than to demonstrate our displeasure,” said United Food and Allied Workers Union of Zimbabwe general secretary Mr Adonia Mutero in an interview with The Herald Business.

In a letter to Dr Made dated May 18 2015, the United Food and Allied Workers Union of Zimbabwe said if the position relating to the issuance of import permits for maize-meal is true, then the negative effects can be easily felt even before full implementation of the imports.

“We write to request for an audience with you honourable pertaining to a variety of issues arising in the Milling Industry (Sector). In particular we wish to discuss the issue of import permits in respect of maize-meal imports ostensibly to avert possible hunger,” said Mr Mutero.

“If the position of issuing of imports permits to maize-meal importers, as we read through various newspapers is true then the obvious negative effects can be easily felt before full implementation.

“It is our fervent hope and aspiration that you will find it within your benevolent grace to afford us an opportunity to discuss these (pending) matters in detail and share with you the agonies of the workers in the food and allied industry (milling industry) as well as highlight to you the breeding discontent in the industry,” Mr Mutero said.

The workers’ stance comes at a time when millers have launched a campaign against cheap mealie-meal imports.

The campaign titled: Millers Against Imported Maize-Meal Industry Unites Against Cheap Imports and Policies Undermining Zim-Asset, Industrial Growth and Development observes that while the policy of imported maize-meal may be specific to the milling industry, the characteristics of this policy are similar to many other policies affecting and suppressing industrial growth and development not only in the milling industry, but across all sectors of Zimbabwean industry.

“If indeed it is true that the Government has issued import permits to individuals then we want to know the logic behind such a move.

“We understand that we are in deficit in terms of the expected harvest but if that is what informed the minister to start importing mealie- meal, such a policy needs to be revised because it is against Zim-Asset in relation to the creation of jobs,” he said.

At a Press briefing on Tuesday millers said that the Government should consider reviewing the policy-making framework in the country to ensure that wide spread consultations are made by administrative authorities, participation of relevant stakeholders, policy sustainability and consistency, eradicate corruption, minimised autonomy of individuals and increased transparency thereby combating the scourge of corruption in the Government and industry is done in the best interests of the populace and country.

Source : The Herald