Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, Patrick Kangwa says Lusaka province has become a hot spot of maize and mealie meal smuggling following recent interception of the 23 trucks that attempted to smuggle the commodities.
Mr. Kangwa said this has prompted the government to form the Lusaka province and district maize and mealie-meal anti-smuggling task force that will enhance anti-smuggling activities by tackling the vice at the provincial and district level.
He said that the task force should ensure that the maize produced and stored within Lusaka province is secure by increasing measures that will stop smuggling of maize and mealie-meal.
The Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet was speaking during the launch of the Lusaka Province Maize and Mealie-Meal Anti-Smuggling Task Force.
He added that the objective of the task force is to safeguard the national food security by curbing illegal exports.
“As you are all aware, food security is key to national stability and development and should therefore be taken seriously,” Mr. Kangwa added.
He said that the curbing of smuggling of maize and mealie meal can be achieved by monitoring of international borders and mounting of checkpoints in strategic locations such as Kafue Bridge.
He noted that the regional deficit is a good opportunity for exports deficit adding that there is need to be strategic to ensure there is food security in the country.
“The challenge has, however, been that within the region some countries have been experiencing periodic food deficit putting pressure on our national food security, this has heightened levels of smuggling of maize and mealie-meal in the country,” he said.
And Lusaka Province Permanent Secretary Elias Kamanga said the formation of the provincial food security task force has come at the right time when the province is experiencing the surge in smuggling activities.
Mr. Kamanga said that the illegal entry and exit from the country has been reported along the porous border line with Mozambique and Zimbabwe in Luangwa district.
“The task force that we are launching today is mindful of the negative effects of smuggling on the economy, especially food smuggling” he noted.
He added that the smuggling of maize grain and mealie meal creates food shortages and the increase in mealie meal prices.
“We are also mindful that smuggling of any kind deprives the country of the much needed revenue for public investment,” Mr. Kamanga said.
He reiterated that the provincial task force will work tirelessly to promote formal international trade and stamp out illegal activities that undermine the efforts made by government to grow the economy and create employment