Angry farmers reacting to the inertia and complicity of their board and management in the looting and plunder of K34 million from the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) have demanded for Government and Police intervention to save the organization.
They are afraid that many small-scale farmers would suffer irreparably, given the erratic weather, if Sweden and Finland implement their threat to cut aid unless the money is refunded and the top management of the union steps down.
And Kalomo UPND Member of Parliament Request Muntanga has supported farmers’ demand to access the audit report and lodge a formal complaint with the police and the Investigator General.
The audit report prepared by donors’ auditors has revealed massive plunder and pillage of resources in which former presidents of ZNFU have been compromised through loans and other financial inducements and were unlikely to take decisive action against the massive frauds in the organization.
Meanwhile, ZNFU management has launched a witch-hunt against those suspected of giving the Daily Nation a copy of the audit report and have been targeted for dismissal.
Mr Muntanga said when he first read the story about the massive plunder of donor funds totalling more than K34 billion (old currency) in activities bordering on fraud, tax evasion and sheer abuse of authority, he was deeply saddened because Zambian farmers had been faced with many challenges which could have been addressed if the donor money was prudently utilized. The detailed 242-page SIDA forensic audit report on ZNFU has revealed glaring abuses of funds, perpetuated over the years by senior management.
‘‘Zambian farmers should be given access to the report so that they can use it to lodge a complaint to police and the Investigator General so that those involved in the plunder and looting of donor money meant for the welfare of farmers in the country are arrested. ‘‘If they cannot explain how the money was used or appropriated, they can easily be arrested for pure theft. We need the report so that we can also read it comprehensively because you cannot have an institution purporting to represent the interest of farmers yet it is being massively looted,” Mr Muntanga said.
He appealed to the Ministry of Agriculture to take keen interest in the revelations and demand an explanation from ZNFU so that it could account for the donor funds that could have been abused.
Mr Muntanga said farmers in the country were suffering and yet the organization that was representing them was alleged to be involved in fraud and theft of resources meant to improve their welfare.
“When I read the story, I could not believe that such could happen at ZNFU. If it is true, this is very sad. We have educated and intelligent people to preside over institutions that serve the interest of farmers but they are using their skills to do wrong things such as defrauding the same institutions they are leading,” Mr Muntanga said.