News Column

Ama Hits Back At Millers Over Maize Prices

August 19, 2014

Fidelis Munyoro

Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) yesterday said the constitutional application filed by the Grain Millers' Association of Zimbabwe last week seeking to nullify the Government gazetted maize prices is an abuse of court process. The Government, through the Agricultural Marketing Authority (Minimum Grain Producer Prices) Regulations 2014, also known as SI 122 of 2014 set US$390 per tonne and the price applied not only to grain purchases made by the GMB, but to all grain purchases made by any buyer including all the GMAZ's members.

GMAZ, along with the Grain and Oil Seed Traders' Association, last week took Government to the Constitutional Court seeking to invalidate the Government decision arguing that it is unconstitutional.

AMA, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made and the Attorney-General are listed as respondents.

AMA lawyer Mr Rodgers Matsikidze of Matsikidze and Mucheche, wrote yesterday to GMAZ demanding the association to withdraw its application, describing it as ill-fated.

"Our client is surprised by the contents of your letter and also your constitutional application, which they believe is clearly an abuse of the court process," said Mr Matsikidze in the letter dated August 18, 2014.

Mr Matsikidze said the law was clear that where a statutory instrument is silent on the effective date of operation, the date it is gazetted or promulgated becomes the effective date.

He said in essence, if the GMAZ and GOSTA clients from the effective date fail to comply with the statutory instrument, they would not be spared of the consequences of defying the law.

"Issues of marketing of grain by their very nature were state security issues and the local farmers should be protected," said Mr Matsikidze.

"It's sad that your clients wish to dictate what farmers should get and what they (your clients) should get. Is that fair play?"

In its application GMAZ argued that the Government's decision was unconstitutional.

In April this year Government announced that Cabinet had approved a maize producer price of US$390 per tonne for the 2014-15 marketing season.

GMAZ argued that the price approved by Cabinet only applied to the GMB. The millers were not affected by the directive and continued to buy maize and other grains from various producers at negotiated prices.

This, GMAZ argued, Minister Made's action was constitutionally unpalatable and irregular.

The association further argued that it had a right to enjoy the protection and benefit of the law and that the organisation and its members had freedom of association in terms of the Constitution.

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Source: AllAfrica

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