THE government has revealed plans to introduce a coupon scheme to assist the vulnerable to purchase mealie meal which was recently increased from $50 to $70.
Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Finance minister Mthuli Ncube briefed Cabinet on the action taken to normalise the roller meal supply situation.
“Government thus moved in to redress the situation using a two-pronged approach. Firstly, it was decided that the price be raised to $70 per 10kg bag of mealie meal from $50.
“Secondly, a targeted Coupon Scheme for the Vulnerable is in the offing with the compilation of a database at an advanced stage. The scheme will be rolled out in a week’s time,” Mutsvangwa said.
The Information minister added that the government was aware of the fact that $70 was beyond the reach of many vulnerable members of the community, hence the decision to roll out a coupon system.
“We are working closely with the ministry of Labour and Social Welfare in compiling the database for vulnerable individuals and once we are done they will be able to access the coupons to get cheaper mealie meal,” Mutsvangwa said.
Late last year, the government announced that it had removed subsidies on maize and other small grain which immediately resulted in the skyrocketing of mealie meal prices.
In response, the government entered into an agreement with grain millers and introduced a targeted subsidy on roller meal which saw the retail price of the product dropping to $50 per 10kg.
Instead of the subsidised roller meal being sold in retail shops, it is now being found on the black market at hiked prices, leaving desperate Zimbabweans stranded.
Meanwhile, Mutsvangwa revealed that 21 families are currently marooned as a result of floods which hit Binga’s Nsungwale area, while 11 people are stuck in trees and are in need of evacuation.
“The military evacuation team has not been able to fly to Binga due to the weather conditions, but the government is committed to ensuring that the marooned families are evacuated.
“The Air Force of Zimbabwe, Sub-Aqua Unit stationed at Fairbridge, Bulawayo and the Civil Protection Department had been mobilised to assist the affected families as soon as possible,” Mutsvangwa said.
Zimbabwe has become vulnerable to the effects of climate change, resulting in prolonged dry spells, flash floods and cyclones.
Last year, Cyclone Idai – which devastated the Manicaland province mostly – led to the death of over 804 people, displacement of over 50 000 households and destroyed buildings, infrastructure, and crops worth over US$773 million.
Mutsvangwa added that in Binga’s case, Cabinet had noted the need to avail non-food and food items for the affected families and that the District Civil Protection Committee had been tasked with monitoring the general health and welfare of the people to guard against possible outbreaks of water-borne related diseases.