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RESIDENTS REJECT MAIZE MEAL BAN

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NSALITJE – Tempers flared at the Nsalitje Border Post yesterday as angry residents rejected a proposed import ban on maize meal by NamBoard.
NamBoard is the National Agricultural Marketing Board.


Police moved in swiftly to prevent an almost violent confrontation at the border which separates the country with the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa, and closer to the sugar cane growing town of Pongola, after residents threw missiles at officials from NamBoard who had come to inform them about a proposed import ban on maize meal.


NamBoard controls the importation and exportation of certain agricultural produce, to protect local producers. Yesterday, representatives from the entity had a scheduled meeting with residents from Nsalitje and surrounding areas.


Information gathered was that the officials had gone to the borderline area to inform the residents about a proposed ban on the importation of maize meal, which is expected to be implemented at the beginning of next month, November.


Restriction of maize meal coming from South Africa has always been there but the residents were allowed to import a certain quantity of the corn. However, this has always been a source of quarrel between residents and border officials.
So, a fight was expected when residents learnt that the meeting arranged by NamBoard yesterday was meant to inform them about the new proposed ban.
Enforce
Residents were informed that the decision to enforce the ban was taken after it was realised that they no longer faced difficulties finding food locally, following the establishment of a milling company in the area.
This did not go down well with the residents who complained that the maize meal at the said milling company was more expensive than the prices charged by South African supermarkets. For instance, a resident said a 25kg bag of maize meal costs around R95 in South African supermarkets, while the local milling charges E150.
As soon as a NamBoard official introduced the subject, the angry residents disrupted the meeting and began throwing all sorts of weapons at his team, as a way of venting their frustration over the proposed ban. The terrified officials were forced to run away and seek shelter at the border offices, as the angry residents bayed for their blood. The situation was calmed down by the intervention of police officers who talked to the residents immediately after the situation turned violent.
“This is going to make life more difficult for us because we are not employed. How are we expected to survive? These people have just teamed up with their friends under the guise of protecting local produce,” complained one resident.
When approached for comment yesterday, NamBoard Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Siphephiso Dlamini, promised that a statement would be issued today regarding the organisation’s position on the proposed restriction.

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