GOVERNMNET is keenly watching the revelations of alleged plunder at the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) but will only take a step after the board furnishes it with a report, Agriculture Minister Given Lubinda has said.
But the Zambia Direct Democracy Movement (ZDDM) has urged Government to immediately disband the ZNFU so that investigative wings could step in to investigate the alleged corruption that has marred the institution.
Mr Lubinda told the Daily Nation that ZNFU was a private entity run by a board and that Government would not interfere with whatever decision the board would take and would only act when the report was presented.
He said Government did not want to jeopardise the board’s input in the matter since they were shareholders in the institution and was giving it enough time to sort out the issues highlighted by the Auditor General’s office before stepping into the matter.
Mr Lubinda said Government was waiting for more information from the board after sitting and coming up with a report and will act on the information that will be availed.
“ZNFU is a private entity run by the board and we will not take an immediate step because the board is acting on the Auditor General’s report.
Once they are done, they will furnish us with a report to and that is when we shall take a step.
“ZNFU is not like a government department but we, as government, are stakeholders because farmers are involved and we shall ensure that this issue is conclusively dealt with because we are an interested party as our farmers are involved. We are just giving them enough time to come up with a decision,” Mr Lubinda said.
Meanwhile, ZDDM vice president Charles Kafumbo yesterday said that his party was disappointed with some officers at ZNFU for betraying the interest of poor farmers by allegedly stealing resources which could have improved their livelihoods.
Mr. Kafumbo said government should immediately disband the institution to pave way for investigations so that the ailing officers could be dealt with accordingly because they were derailing government’s efforts in diversifying the economy by taking advantage of their positions to loot resources at their disposal.
He said his party was particularly worried that while intended beneficiaries of the operations of ZNFU were battling to improve their production capacities thereby providing food to the country, some ZNFU officers had the luxury of robbing them of their entitlements by engaging in illegal activities to enrich themselves.
He implored the investigative wings to take a keen interest into the ZNFU issue by launching investigations immediately adding that there should be no sacred cows in the investigations so that it serves as an abhorrent to would-be offenders by applying the law fairly and firmly.
“We are extremely disappointed with the developments at ZNFU and we now demand that government should immediately disband the institution so that investigative wings can step in.
“There is need to ascertain what really transpired and all those who will be found wanting should never be spared because we cannot entertain a situation where our farmers are suffering because those entrusted with their resources are not sincere,” Mr. Kafumbo said.
According to the Auditor s report, the ZNFU board and management have been implicated in the looting and plunder of K34 million through loans and other financial inducements.