Minister given ultimatum over food fortification

HARARE - Millers have threatened to institute legal proceedings if Health minister David Parirenyatwa does not invalidate the food fortification policy, as health inspectors are threatening to arrest and shut down milling companies who do not abide by fortification guidelines.

In an August 16 letter to Parirenyatwa, Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe(Gmaz) chairperson Tafadzwa Musarara gave the minister a seven-day ultimatum to invalidate the Statutory Instrument 120 of 2016 requiring all maize-meal, sugar, cooking oil and flour to be added with micronutrients starting July 1, 2017.

“It’s unfortunate that, despite explaining the challenges in executing this programme, you have remained intransigent. The mandatory fortification programme is asking for the milling industry to do the impossible.

“The law is being hurriedly enforced and has the potential to close down millers or reduce the capacity utilisation of the milling industry, which will consequently compromise national food security,” Musarara said in the letter.

“I regret to advise you that, in light of the foregoing, Gmaz will be making a court application within the next seven days seeking the invalidation of Statutory Instrument 120 of 2016.

“Your health inspectors have started visiting millers threatening to arrest and close them down. It is now apparent that courts are now unavoidable as we have two choices; either to appear as the accused or litigants.”

He accused the minister of not listening to the concerns of the public regarding hurriedly implementing the policy without proper consultation.

“I make particular reference to our joint meeting of Sunday, July 18, 2017 at Mpilo Hospital that was attended by representatives of Johane Marange, Bulawayo United Residents Association and us.

“These two organisations, among others, form a critical mass market of our products namely maize-meal and flour in the Bulawayo province and the concerns they expressed are equally shared by the generality of citizens in Zimbabwe.

“Our application will be grounded, inter alia on the following; the results of your micro nutrient survey, which are not independently verified shows that the micro deficiency is dominant in the rural areas. But the products sought to be fortified are largely consumed in the urban areas b) maize-meal to be fortified is 95 percent supplied to urban areas.

“Rural areas account for 82 percent of the national maize-meal consumption. Your fortification programme excludes the rural areas and the selective application of this programme is as astonishing as it is unreasonable,” Musarara wrote.

Millers also pointed out that there were facing challenges of shortages of foreign currency to import fortificants and machinery.

“The Health minister is yet to negotiate for the exemption of custom duty and Vat on imported fortificants and machinery. The milling and baking industries have an aggregate outstanding Nostro currency liabilities of $87 million of shipments received and consumed as way back as August 2016,” he said.

They also list shortage of working capital by millers to fund mandatory fortification, no clear waivers, lack of technical support and threat to loss of employment as reasons to invalidate the whole fortification process.

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.