Barely a day after President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared the 2018/19 El Nino induced drought a national disaster, there has been a significant decrease in the amount of mealie-meal on the shelves of Harare’s major supermarkets.

Indeed in our latest survey today the downtown branch of Choppies had completely run out of all manner of maze meal including the normally expensive brands of Parlenta and Ngerewere refined meals. Not even the slow-moving 5kgs were available.

The cheapest brands of roller meal that is Red Seal and Silo were absent in all the shops. At FoodWorld Copacabana only a few 10kg sacks of an unfamiliar Super Power brand selling at a steep price of $32.60 were available. The rest of the shelf was padded by 5kg sacks going for around $18!

It was the same story for the Nelson Mandela branch of Choppies, Pick N Pay Joina and Market Square. Unfamiliar brands selling for higher prices, shelves dominated by 5kg sacks.

It was the same story for the branches we visited. The popular cheap brands were gone and in their stead, higher-priced 5kgs dominated the shelve space. Except in one popular shop.

Mahommed Mussa was still well stocked

The popular wholesale Mahommed Mussa was running a bit low than usual but it was better stocked compared to the four most popular supermarkets: OK, Pick N Pay, Choppies and FoodWorld.

There they still had the popular Red Seal roller meal in the familiar 10kg package. They were selling these for $24.75. This is higher than what supermarkets were asking for on Tuesday ( OK the most expensive was charging $24.25/10kg).

It could be temporary or …

This running low could be a result of people panic buying after hearing the drought news or it can be a harbinger of dire and dark things to come. The effects of the latest drought might be arriving in town.

It’s too early to call it but it is advisable to be prepared for the worst. We are already facing fuel, water, bread and other shortages it might be time to add mealie-meal to that list.