KATIMA MULILO – Some beneficiaries under this year’s drought relief programme in Zambezi Region have cried foul saying the maize meal being distributed to them is unfit for human consumption.
Poniso Malimba, a resident of Malenga-lenga village in Linyanti Constituency said “the maize meal is of such low quality to the point that even dogs are not eating it.” Kabuba Sizimbo, another resident of Malenga-lenga who also serves as chairperson of Malenga-lenga village development committee (VDC), said she had been receiving complaints from the beneficiaries about the inferior quality of the maize meal.
She added: “The maize meal is not rotten but it is of poor quality when compared to the standard maize meal brands consumed in the region.” Asked about the brand of the maize meal, all Sizimbo could say is “the maize meal bags are written drought relief, unsifted maize meal and not for sale.”
Cletius Sipapela the councillor for Linyanti was not available for comment on his mobile phone and New Era got wind that he was busy travelling out of the region.
A member of Masikili VDC in Kabbe South Constituency, Gertrude Sililo, explained that the maize meal the beneficiaries are receiving has an inedible taste. “That maize meal is bitter,” she said.
John Likando, the councillor of Kabbe South, confirmed he has received reports about the poor quality of the maize meal that is being distributed in the constituency under the drought relief programme. He explained that “the poor quality of maize meal is not exclusive to my constituency but it is a regional problem, all the constituencies in the region are experiencing it. There was a change of suppliers.”
“We previously made use of Kamunu Wholesalers and Millers which is situated in Katima Mulilo and their service was discontinued. We now have a new supplier called Agri-Mills located in Machita village in Katima Rural Constituency,” Likando said in response to an inquiry from this newspaper.
Likando proposed that the maize meal should be sampled for a laboratory test to verify whether it is fit for human consumption.
When contacted for comment, Bernard Mutani Mbeha, the managing director of Agri-Mills, said he was aware of the situation and further explained that “the maize meal that we are processing does not come from our storage, it comes from the silos of Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency (AMTA) through the office of the prime minister which purchased it for the purposes of the drought relief programme.”
Mbeha said the maize meal from AMTA dates back to the 2016/2017 ploughing season and it has been kept in the silos for long thereby losing its quality.
“The maize meal that we are processing for the school feeding programme by using our own maize from our own storage here is on par with the local maize meal brands,” he said.
*The writer Mashazi Mahoto is a second-year media student at the University of Namibia (Unam) and is an intern at New Era newspaper.