Food crisis looms

Saturday, December 8 2012

THE Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) has predicated a reduction in maize production in the 2012 -2013 farming season due to the delayed distribution of in puts.

And ZNFU president Jarvis Zimba has said that there would be a shortage of maize before the start of the next harvest season and government should be prepared to buy from farmers who grow irrigated maize.

Mr. Zimba told the Daily Nation that the persistent shortage of maize and increased Mealie meal prices should be blamed on the millers for poor planning in the storage of the commodity.

He said that millers should be blamed for the current shortage of mealie meal in some parts of the country because they did not buy enough maize upfront.

“Initially they were supposed to buy maize for the entire year but it seems that was not done and it is not this year alone but even in the past few years because of depending on the government subsidized maize at the Food Reserve Agency (FRA),” he said.

Mr. Zimba said that Zambia risks completely running out of maize before the next harvest season adding that the monthly consumption of about 200 000 metric tons of maize translated that Zambia needed about 1.4 million extra metric tons of the grain before the next harvest season.

He said it was also not clear why small scale farmers who were the major contributors to the national food basket failed to produce enough for the nation.

Mr. Zimba urged the Zambian government to quickly convene an indaba with all major stakeholders to address and plan for the eventuality, adding that it was clear than the nation had run out of maize.

“We could be short of maize before the start of the harvest season because we don’t have maize looking at the current situation. About 1.4 metric tons of maize is needed before the start of the harvest season. The situation will create problems for the country,” he said.

He said that there was also likelihood that the country would have reduced harvest which would have an effect on the economic growth of the country.

“We are going into 2013 with a serious challenge which needs a serious leadership to address because we are likely to have a reduction in maize harvest for the 2012-2013 seasons. We need to re-look at the national stock before any exports are done in order to avoid the current problem the nation is facing in terms of the availability of maize,” he said.


Sata disappoints Chipimo

MORE opposition political parties have expressed disappointments with President Michael Sata for defending Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba for what they called unruly behavior.

National Restoration Party (NAREP) president Elias Chipimo strongly castigated President Sata for defending Mr. Kabimba’s unruly behavior when he appeared for corruption interrogation at the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) earlier in the week.

President Sata on Thursday defended Mr. Kabimba for ferrying busloads of PF cadres to the ACC offices when he was summoned for interrogations over corruption allegations.

He warned that he would not fire or suspend anyone because ACC did not seek for his clearance to have Mr. Kabimba investigated for corruption.

But Chipimo said that Mr. Kabimba’s behavior at the ACC was totally unacceptable and that it was regrettable that President Sata was condoning such instead of condemning his minister.

He said that the reason why stakeholders were calling for the suspension of Mr. Kabimba and Defence Minister Geoffrey Mwamba who were both facing corruption allegations were to restrain them from interfering with investigations.

Mr. Chipimo expressed sadness that the PF leaders were still behaving as if they were still in the opposition even after over a year in government, adding that Mr. Kabimba’s behavior could have been excused if government was six months in office but that they had now matured to behave properly.

“It is unfortunate that President Sata is condoning such behavior.

The reason why we were saying the two ministers should step down is to avoid a situation where they will be intimidating the ACC,” he said.

Mr. Kabimba’s counterpart, GBM who also facing corruption allegations, appeared at the ACC offices in a low key style devoid of cadres and a media frenzy that characterised the justice minister’s show up.

And Zambia for Empowerment and Development (ZED) president Fred Mutesa has observed that the failure by President Sata to reprimand Mr. Kabimba’s conduct when he appeared for interrogations at the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) showed that there were sacred cows in the fight against graft.

He said President Sata’s action to defend Mr. Kabimba sent wrong signals about the PF government’s commitment to upholding the rule of law and corruption fight.

Mr. Mutesa said that President Sata’s decision not to take disciplinary action against Mr. Kabimba after he refused to be questioned by ACC gave an impression that there were sacred cows in the corruption fight that the PF had championed.

He said that what needed to be understood was that the people of Zambia were not demanding for the suspension of Mr. Kabimba because of the allegations leveled against him, but were not happy with his conduct at the ACC where he was accompanied by cadres.

He has noted that the conduct exhibited by Mr. Kabimba amounts to interfering with the operations of the ACC.

Dr. Mutesa added that leaders in the country should lead by example by ensuring that they uphold the rule of law.

President Sata has stated that he would not suspend any of his ministers being probed by the ACC in the absence of proof of the allegations they were facing.


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