LILIAN CHIKANDI writes
ZIMBABWEAN authorities have allegedly banned local farmers from selling their maize to Zambians at the Monday and Friday markets on that country’s side of Chirundu district in Lusaka Province.
Desperate Zambians have been flocking into Zimbabwe to buy cheaper maize because of the shortage on the Zambian side caused by poor rains.
Some of the affected Zambians are dismayed by the directive.
The Zambians have accused Chirundu District Council and the office of the district commissioner’s office of being behind the ban because they were allegedly seen in Zimbabwe yesterday.
But Chirundu District Council chairman Robison Sianduba and District Commissioner Alfred Hamunjo have denied instigating the ban.
Most Zambians who went to the Monday market in Zimbabwe were told that they had up to Friday to buy maize after which they would not be allowed.
The Zambians were told that if they were found with maize on the Zimbabwean side after Friday they would be arrested.
Levy Siankulu, one of the affected Zambians, bitterly complained that Zimbabwean farmers had also been warned not to sell any maize to the Zambians by government officials or face arrest.
Mr Siankulu said Chirundu residents had been forced to buy maize from Zimbabwe because of drought on the Zambian side in the just-ended rainy season.
Former headman for Simaundu Village Curthbert Siachainga says he is also disappointed after he interviewed some villagers who had gone to Zimbabwe yesterday.
They had told him that they had been warned to stop buying maize from that country.
But in separate phone interviews with Sun yesterday, Mr Sianduba (council chairman) said what was circulating on social media were just falsehoods because yesterday he was in his office and did not remember the last time he had gone to Zimbabwe.
He said those buying maize from Zimbabwe were scaring themselves that they will be apprehended by that country’s security because they were buying it in bulk.
Mr Hamunjo has also distanced himself from the ban saying yesterday he was very busy with office work and was not anywhere near the border or crossed to Zimbabwe.
He said he would make a follow-up with the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) and find out when the relief maize would be sent to the district.
Meanwhile, Chief Chipepo says it is sad that the Zimbabwean authorities had banned their farmers from selling maize to desperate Zambians who are in dire need of the commodity.
He advised headmen in his chiefdom not to include “ghost people” on the lists of the beneficiaries of free maize that would be distributed by the government.
Chief Chipepo said those who would be allowed to buy the relief maize for sale should not buy it in bulk and start reselling it at exploitative prices.