Subsidies on maize-meal and rice are being restored to ensure citizens have access to cheaper basic foodstuffs and cushion them against the obtaining economic challenges, President Mnangagwa has said.
Addressing youths at the 2019 National Youth Convention here yesterday, the President said maize-meal and rice were basic commodities and removing the subsidy would affect many people.
“I want to say there are challenges that we are facing as a result of the austerity measures that we have already announced that we have eased in the (2020) Budget because we have achieved what we wanted,” he said.
“We are now focusing on production, employment creation and youth empowerment. We must create safety nets to help our people. Two days ago I heard that the subsidy on mealie-meal and rice was removed. No.
“I want to say this here, the issue of mealie-meal affects a lot of people and we cannot remove the subsidy. So I am restoring it so that the price of mealie-meal is also reduced. They are going to publish tomorrow that what we had done, we had not consulted the President.”
He said basic goods must be cheap so that everyone can afford them.
“We have a cheap food policy that we are creating to ensure that basic foods are affordable,” he said.
In his 2020 National Budget, Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube said subsidies on roller meal, standard loaves of bread and cooking oil would remain.
But he was moving from the more general subsidy of offering manufacturers cheap foreign exchange, which distorted markets and saw products used by the rich being subsidised as well as those used by most people, to direct subsidies on the most critical products paid to manufacturers.
On the introduction of the local currency, President Mnangagwa said no country in the world would succeed without its currency.
He said the basket of currencies introduced in 2009 was only meant to stabilise the economy and time had come for the local currency to take root.
President Mnangagwa said a law was being crafted to deal with businesspeople who continue to demand payments in foreign currency.
Turning to the Zanu-PF restructuring exercise, the President said there should be no imposition of candidates.
He said people were free to elect leaders committed to work for them and the party.
President Mnangagwa also said Zimbabwe was keen to work with all countries of the world willing to do business with Harare.
“We are saying there is no country that we have wronged but we know the countries that have wronged us.
“There are those that have imposed sanctions on us for redistributing our land. Whether they like it or not, the land reform programme is irreversible,” said President Mnangagwa.
He also took the opportunity to address the issue of Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs) that was raised by youths in mining.
The President said he would sit down with Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando to see if they were still relevant.
On the issue of a gold rush at David Whitehead in Chegutu, the President said youths should organise themselves into groups to do mining activities.
Speaking at the same event, Zanu-PF secretary for Youth Affairs Cde Pupurai Togarepi said most provincial mining directors were corrupt and working against the upliftment of youths.
He said youths were happy with the decision taken by the Government to fire doctors who refused to go back to work after a court ruling declaring their strike illegal.
The youth convention was attended by thousands of young people, youth organisations, Zanu-PF Politburo and Central Committee members.