By Nation Reporter
THE Drug Enforcement Commission and National Prosecutions Authority have been commended for have arrested and charging Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) officials who were accused of misappropriating the funds that were meant for farmers.
Youth Against Corruption in Zambia founder Natasha Chilundika said young people and farmers would not allow any misappropriation of donor funds meant for the vulnerable and poorest in society to happen anymore.
Mr Chilundika urged the relevant authorities handling the ZNFU case to ensure the investigation was done thoroughly and promptly so as to secure the interest of the farmers and ultimately the State.
“We have confidence in the judicial process that has been set in motion and we will await the court’s decision,” he said.
Mr Chilundika said the agriculture sector employs 89.7 percent of rural households, and the rural poverty rate has remained persistently high at 76.6 percent and therefore, laundering and embezzlement of funds meant for the sector impacts negatively on the poorest population of the country.
“We, urge strong, stern and decisive action to be taken against the ZNFU officials found wanting by the law,” he said.
He said the Zambian farmer is negatively impacted both through the lost opportunity to directly obtain resources and services from the misappropriated funds, and also through the disruption of services offered by ZNFU to farmers, which included training and capacity building, empowerment, marketing and various loan facilities.
He said farmers had failed to have access to a number of services such as the Lima Credit Scheme and capacity building trainings, which had been affected since the case started in February. “Some farmers still haven’t yet been able to deposit payments into the credit scheme, and capacity building programmes for women empowerment trainings are not taking place as scheduled.
“In 2015, the misappropriated total amount of K34 million could have bought 1 hectare seed plus fertiliser pack for about 20, 200 households,” he said.
On the other hand, the K906, 750 used for landscaping at Mr Ndambo’s house could have benefited 539 farmers with a half hectare seed plus fertiliser pack, or alternatively it could have bought 4 012 bags of fertiliser for farmers.
He said it was disheartening to further note that the majority of the farmers remained extremely uninformed about the fraudulent activities that the ZNFU officials engaged in.
Mr Chilundika reiterated that the Government was not able to fully fund the agriculture sector on its own, especially with the current challenges of high fiscal deficits, high inflation rates and tumbling economic growth, and yet people were plundering such funding from the donors.
“This can no longer be acceptable in Zambia in 2016 and therefore, we call for strong, stern and decisive action against those found wanting by the law to uproot this cancer in our beloved nation, Zambia,” he said.