By CIC Editors.



Smuggling has been a natural custom for many years in Zambia but not the level at which it has reached especially when it comes to Mealie Meal of particular interest its Copperbelt.

The instability in Congo DRC caused by the M23 rebels in North East of Kivu and Goma have created unprecedented pressure and demand on mealie meal not just in Zambia but in DRC itself. Congo East is one of the places that is mixed with diverse population ranging from indigenous Congolese to Rwandanese, Ugandans, Kenyans and Tanzanians. Since the outbreak of civil war 5 years ago that started due to political unsatisfactory it has degenerated into an all out war displacing more than 3 million residents with casualties estimated to be 22,000 according to UN report.
This instability has gone regional and threatens to break out as international conflict between Rwanda and Congo as M23 rebels keeps advancing and declaring they want Kinshasa to fall. Amidst these factors mealie meal a staple food in Congo can only come from Zambia and nowhere else.

Congo a country of 90.98 million population against Zambia’s 20 million is no much to feed it even if every Zambian was to supply 20 acres of mealie meal to Congo DRC it will still not be enough. Geographical factors such as uncertainty rainfall patterns and global economic turmoil in areas like energy, finance and everything puts Zambia in an awkward position yo safeguard its national food security before it gets devoured into national hunger disaster.

The new dawn administration under the leadership of his Excellence Mr Hakainde Hichilema have put in among other things long term measures to produce more maize and supply Congo DRC to earn the foreign exchange but this is not a one day project. Through Zambia National Service and Zambia Correctional Service the government has embarked into robust production of maize as well as encourage citizens to go back to the tools and farm more.

As all this is happening, Zambia National Service Commander Lt General Maliti Solochi its his duty as ZNS to curb smuggling an operation CIC is privileged to cover under difficult conditions and our experience is astonishing how hard this fight is. From his office and in Lusaka and his generals and other officers, general Solochi means well and he is equal to the task but the weak law on smuggling in our constitution has really affected ZNS and all other government wings in prosecuting and securing convictions that are painful and punitive to deter future smugglers.

Smuggling Compromise and all its players keeps rising despite the coming of Task Force. Between 3rd October and January 26th the Task Force Team has caught and prevented bags to exit Zambian soil in excess total above 90,000 bags at current buying price of K270 per bag the government of Zambia through TASK FORCE TEAM has served about K24.3 million from going out into the wrong hands due to smuggling but players that may include politicians, Compromise officers from Zambia Army, Zambia Police, Zambia National Service itself and many officials makes the fight too huge to conquer.

Of particular interest of this analysis is Chililabombwe where the propaganda against smuggling and mealie meal is so ripe and threatening to get out of hands has one bright footprint we can detect. It’s smugglers both in rulling party and opposition as well as big cartels afraid or disturbed by Task Force Team that feels they will be okay if ZNS left because the level of curbing will be way easier with other players.

General Solochi has led by example by putting his boots on the ground to flash out any of his officers and soldiers engaged in smuggling. Its documented under CIC how many officers have been dismissed by ZNS High command due to their involvement in smuggling thence calling for General Solochi to step down is foolish idea that has only one aim which is to encourage more smuggling because this is the end game we can bet. The man has been so lethal amidst so much pressure and Compromise among the players and cartels that are so powerful and can even sponsor if not taking advantage of the situation.

Zambia has agreement with Congo DRC for the order of mealie meal both imported and locally Produced, Zambia itself has enough stock to feed any district but due to hyper smuggling in four hard hit areas that are geographically near the Cong DRC border lines namely Ndola, Mufulira, Masaiti and Chililabombwe things are bit different to ensure that mealie meal does not always end up at the border because the selling price across the border is very attractive and enticing. Just 5 bags someone is different but at a larger scale it can not be encouraged because the rate of selling to Congo DRC is 1,000X times faster than the rate of producing the same mealie meal and if nothing is done Zambia is likely to go hungry should everything be sold out. Chililabombwe like any other affected towns of smuggling has outlets where mealie meal is sold for local consumption but 80% of every buyer takes it to for smuggling this creates artificial shortages and demands hence the noise of it.



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