Members of the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) have raised concern over the much-hyped 31 July mass demonstrations registering fears of loss of property which will have adverse effects on their businesses.
During a GMAZ National Executive Council meeting held on Thursday in Harare, millers highlighted that previous demonstrations have left them with massive financial losses which resulted in job cuts and some closing shop.
In January 2019 Zimbabwe witnessed violent and sporadic demonstrations which saw some shops being looted and property destroyed. Insurance companies refused to foot the costs of replacing the damaged properties and looted goods.
GMAZ sources who spoke to this reporter said the members indicated that they wanted the association to seek a binding legal judgement which will hold the organisers of the 31 July demonstrations personally liable for any loss of property, life and limb.
The Millers are said to have noted that the decision would be naturally opposed by the opposition parties and activists calling for the demonstrations. However, there were other members who raised concern that such legal action would also attract scorn and ridicule from some political players within government.
The Millers gave the US$27 million wheat facility as an example of how they created structures to rescue the nation from wheat shortages and were later persecuted over the action.
Millers blamed the US$27 million witch-hunt on political forces who had an agenda to break up the Millers Association. Millers supply a number of items such as maize meal, rice, flour, beans, salt and other products to retailers on account and consignment.
Some Millers argued that they have bank loans which need to be serviced and any losses incurred would also affect their ability to service the loans.
Commenting on the matter, Political Analyst Nicholas Ncube said,”It is given that law abiding citizens will abide by lockdown regulations and those who are defiant are likely to come out and demonstrate, there are no limits to what the defiant will or won’t do as they express their frustration over the situation in the country.
“Millers and all business and property owners have rights too which must be protected. On the other hand demonstrators also have a right to express themselves. Therefore it is only fair and prudent that liability for loss of life, limb and property should fall on the organisers of the demo.”
Ncube added that the organisers of the demo will take credit for the demo’s success and they should equally foot the bill should there be any losses incurred.