The Mealie-Meal Crisis in Zambia

From Zambian Economist Sat Jan 19 2013, 07:15:00

By Elias Chipimo

When NAREP held a press conference on 10 January 2013 to deliver our New Year message, we challenged the Patriotic Front to stop focussing on political domination (for example, through triggering unnecessary by-elections) and to prioritise development actions. We then gave several examples of people's expectations and pointed out that it was not our intention to see the PF fail because if they failed, it would be the people who would suffer.

We received a harsh response from State House suggesting that we are living in a "parallel universe" and requesting us to: "pinpoint where the PF Government has failed, and provide alternative grounded options rather than spend time in a day-dreaming or theoretical session about what [we] [wish] to happen". The Parallel Universe Series will therefore address issues we were asked to point out. We do this in the spirit of offering solution-oriented thinking and to share with the general public our own policy priorities and governance plans as a Party that seeks to restore values-based leadership through constructive reasoning and issue-based politics. Our first discussion topic is the current mealie-meal crisis.

Rule number one in handling a maize crisis: accept that there is a problemFew people would deny that we are facing a serious food crisis and one that could get a lot worse by the time the current rains are over and the new maize crop is harvested. The price of maize meal - the nation's staple food - has increased in some cases by over 100 percent from the prices prevailing prior to the day the PF administration came to power. As we will try to demonstrate, although the problem is not entirely the PF's fault, decisions that they have either taken or failed to take, have served to make a bad situation even worse.

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