By Michell Zvanyanya
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister Judith Ncube yesterday intervened to stop a local supermarket that was selling a 10kg of subsidised roller meal on condition that a customer first bought groceries worth $150.
Customers were given the condition at Galaxy Cash and Carry Supermarket located along Fort Street between Leopold Takawira and 8th avenues yesterday.
When a Chronicle news crew visited the supermarket at around 9AM there was an uproar as customers who had been queuing outside for hours said the majority of them only had money to buy mealie-meal.
The price of roller meal was slashed last year after Government introduced a subsidy, a development that brought relief to many people.
In an interview yesterday, Cde Ncube said she visited the supermarket and convinced its owner to sell the mealie-meal unconditionally.
She condemned the practice of abusing the subsidised mealie-meal, saying it is a controlled commodity meant to benefit ordinary citizens without conditions, hence individuals must not try to profiteer from it.
“I visited the supermarket and spoke to a man who seemed to be the owner of the supermarket.
“He said he placed the condition as a way of controlling the long queue but from my observation the queue was short as compared to what we normally see so I do not know what their main motive was.
“We managed to reason with the owner and we were able to rectify the problem,” she said.
“We will engage the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe to look into the situation because it is not fair for a person who for example has only $50 to buy a 10kg bag of mealie-meal to get to a supermarket and be told to first buy grocery worth $150 or $200 to get the commodity.”
Cde Ncube urged consumers to resist bad practices and condemned businesses that seek to make mega profits out of people’s misery.
Mr Shelton Matanga who was among those in the queue said people had been waiting for hours to get into Galaxy Cash and Carry supermarket to buy the mealie-meal when they were given the condition.
“We arrived here early in the morning at around 7AM after realising there was a delivery of the subsidised roller meal. We have been told that for us to buy a 10kg of mealie-meal we need to buy groceries worth $150. But as ordinary citizens we are already struggling and we do not have the extra $150 they are demanding to buy things that we do not need in our homes,” he said.
“The Government must come to our aid and ensure that it regulates and monitors the selling of this commodity.”
A woman who preferred anonymity said such bad business practices were affecting ordinary citizens who are already struggling.
“We are unable to buy cheap mealie-meal from the black market because we do not have access to cash that is required there.
“It is also difficult to buy mealie-meal in supermarkets with the amount of money we have because they are demanding more from us,” she said. The Chronicle