President Sata has always insisted that in the quest for good governance, transparency and campaign against corruption, he would institute a tribunal against Mutembo Nchito or any other person if requested formally.
Such a request has now been made and the reasons for it tabulated.
We therefore hope that the President will accord the request a hearing and institute a tribunal as has been requested by many other stake holders.
Payment to peasant farmers
It is ironical to learn that Government now has money to pay all the farmers that have delivered their grain to the Food Reserve Agency.
This was not the case last week when Agriculture Minister Emmanuel Chenda said government has exhausted the K300 billion budgetary allocations for the crop marketing exercise.
He said at the time that the Food Reserve Agency-FRA had bought maize beyond the budgeted funds and that the FRA had been authorized to borrow money to meet the shortfall.
From these facts we concluded that the Government had run out money for the Marketing programme, a statement which the Minister has disputed.
It is difficult to understand the Ministers rancour with our statement. We were simply summarizing from the available facts, namely that Government set aside K300billion for an exercise that requires in excess of K1.3 trillion.
It must be clear that the majority of Zambians are subsistence farmers who depend on proceeds from the seasonal crops to meet their needs. Any delay and indeed any failure by the Government to pay, puts them in serious financial predicament
Little wonder FRA depots throughout the country have been besieged by angry farmers demanding payment or the return of their produce which they will hopefully export, legally or illegally to recover their money.
The desperate plight of Cotton farmers is still fresh in the minds of the Zambian people. Farmers were forced to torch their fields in anger at the low prices offered to them. In the absence of a price stabilization fund, farmers lost out, but since then the prices have rebound but sadly the farmers will not benefit. The beneficiaries will be middle men who bought low and will now sell on the international market at the new price.
The point we were making is that, for a Government that promised to put more money in people’s pockets, budgeting K300billion for a bumper harvest five times in excess of the allocation was not only unrealistic but a guarantee that the majority of rural dwellers would be deprived of their hard earned money.
To make it worse, they would be deprived at a time when they need money to pay for inputs for the oncoming season.
Secondly if indeed there was a plan for the crop, this should have been implemented in line with the needs of the thousands of farmers who are now out of pocket.
We know that Government can not run out of money as it has the capacity to print, but this was not the issue we were arguing. As a people’s paper we are very concerned that thousands of farmers around the country have not been paid for the maize that they have delivered to FRA.
Most of them will remain out of pocket for many months to come.