by MERCY MUJURU in Harare
HARARE, (CAJ News) – THE Zimbabwean government has been taken to court for its restrictive measures banning the sale of the staple maize grain in the country.
A philanthropist and a local farmer have approached the High Court citing this gave the state-run Grain Marketing Board (GMB) a monopoly that would worsen hunger in the drought-prone nation.
The government recently gazetted the Grain Marketing (Control of Sale of Maize) Regulation, making GMB the sole trader of maize. It made it illegal for people to trade in maize among themselves and banned the transportation of more than five bags of maize grain.
The regulations also empowered police officers to seize maize grain from violators.
Allan Markham, a philanthropist and Clever Rambanapasi, a farmer, have taken legal action.
Rambanapasi, who runs a small piggery project, argued that maize is an essential ingredient in pig production and he buys the grain from rural communities.
Markham, who is also an opposition legislator for Harare North, supports some charities in the country and buys maize from communal farmers to feed vulnerable communities.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights is representing the duo in its legal challenge against the Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister, Perrance Shiri.
Food is an emotive issue in Zimbabwe’s political landscape.
Maize aid is usually a vote-buying tool distributed along party lines.
Opposition supporters have reportedly been denied aid as Zimbabwe contends with another drought.
– CAJ News