Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu says the cabinet will soon announce a subsidy to cushion the public against high maize meal prices.

A similar 30 percent subsidy on locally-produced maize meal, beans and peas was introduced from June 2016 to May 2017. This was to cushion the public against skyrocketing food prices in the aftermath of the 2015/16 El NiƱo-induced drought.

It was bankrolled to the tune of M162, 7 million by the then Pakalitha Mosisili-led seven party governing coalition.

Speaking at the weekend burial of his late Democratic Congress (DC) legislator for Kolo constituency, Putsoane Leeto, Mr Mokhothu said the cabinet discussions on the maize meal subsidy were underway.

He said the plans to subsidise the cost of maize meal was triggered by the price hikes that had been brought on by the recurring drought which had affected crop yields.

He did not say when a decision would be reached or what percentage the subsidy would be.

“We know that people are facing hunger,” Mr Mokhothu told the handful of mourners.

“We are discussing a plan to subsidise retail prices for maize meal. We have also agreed that the government will purchase maize from local farmers to be donated back to the people,” Mr Mokhothu said.

Food prices have been hiked by almost 50 percent in the past few months since the outbreak of the deadly Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Shortly after the introduction of a nationwide lockdown from 30 March to 5 May 2020, the price of a 12,5kg bag of maize meal shot up to M108 from M75.