A government investigation into smuggling of mealie meal and maize has confirmed the illegal trade.
This came to light yesterday when Eastern Province Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo took a trip to Malawi’s Mchinji district to verify reports of smuggling of mealie meal into that country.
At the Central Business District CBD in Mchinji, Mr Kasolo found some Zambian mealie meal brands whose millers have been benefiting from subsidized maize selling at an equivalent of 128 Kwacha per 25 kilogramme bag of breakfast meal.
Some of the brands that were found are Banja, Mothers pride, AL and Pembe milling.
Meanwhile, government has tightened security on all irregular routes bordering with Malawi and Mozambique in order to curb the smuggling of maize and mealie meal.
Mr. Kasolo says that the task force which was formed to curb the smuggling of maize will secure all illegal routes commonly known as zalewa.
Mr Kasolo stated that the Provincial administration has also engaged ZNS, the Zambia National Service to enhance patrols and arrest anyone found smuggling maize or mealie meal.
He observed that the smuggling of the commodity has reached alarming levels saying some smugglers are also using bicycles to carry the mealie meal.
He expressed fear that the country may run out of maize if the situation is left unchecked.
Mr Kasolo charged that the smuggling of maize and mealie meal is tantamount to economic sabotage as it may lead to shortage of the staple food.
And Mr Kasolo has announced that the 29 trucks that were marooned for allegedly trying to export maize without export permits from the Ministry of Agriculture will be secured in FRA shed in Chipata.
He noted that NWK was given a permit to export 900 metric tonnes of maize but decided to export another 840 metric tonnes without a permit.
Mr Kasolo observed that the company wanted to dubiously engage a Malawian company to clear the grain, a move which he described as illegal.