GOVERNMENT has gazetted a Statutory Instrument that has classified maize as a controlled product. Government liberalised the maize market in 2009 to encourage competition and ensure farmers get the highest price for their commodity. A number of middlemen took advantage of the situation and started to rip off farmers by offering unviable prices, while others were reportedly reselling the maize for a higher price at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB). The SI, which was published in a government Gazette dated June 28, will not allow farmers to sell maize to private buyers, but only to the Grain Marketing Board or contractors.
According to statutory Instrument 145of 2019 [CAP 18;14 Grain Marketing (Control of Sale of Maize) Regulations 2019, maize is a controlled product in terms of section 29 of the Grain Marketing Act, no person or statutory board or company or entity shall sell or otherwise dispose any maize except to a contractor or to GMB. “Any maize which is required to be sold to the GMB in terms of this section shall be delivered to the GMB at such time, place and quantities as the board may direct and under such terms and conditions as the GMB may please, “reads SI. “No person who is not a [producer of maize or who is not a contractor shall sell maize to the GMB.”
GMB can reject, maize delivered by a person other than a producer or contractor. The area within which the product shall be controlled is all the provinces of Zimbabwe. “A producer of maize or farmer is permitted to transport no more than five bags of maize of a capacity not exceeding 50 kg per bag from one area of the country to the other without any authorised person or police officer having to confiscate the maize,” read the SI. A farmer may only transport excess when going to the GMB or after being authorised. The new regulations also state that; “Any person whether or not they are party to a scheme contract who deals in or possesses maize in contravention of these regulations; that is to say purchase, receive, store, sell, obtain, possess, transport or otherwise dispose of such maize in contravention of these regulations shall in terms of Section 40 (20) of the Act be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding three times the value of such controlled product, calculated on the current selling price of the GMB within Zimbabwe of the highest grade or class of that controlled product or $800 whichever is greater or in default of payment to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years.
“Any authorised agency or person executing its statutory duties may in the case where there is reasonable suspicion that maize is being sold in contravention of these regulations do either or both seize the maize in question or any vehicle, container or other property used in connection with the storage or transportation of maize in question as an exhibit in the contemplate prosecution of the offence in accordance with the provisions of these regulations. “Subject to Section 9 any property seized in contemplation of a prosecution for a contravention of these regulations shall be taken forthwith and delivered to a place of security under the control of a Police Officer or authorised person. Where the maize is wrongly seized, through the provisions of Section 8, the owner may make an application to the High Court for the payment of compensation.”- Sourced from The Herald.