SINDA District Agriculture Committee chairperson Masauso Zulu says it is unfortunate that schools have opened when people have no money to pay.
In an interview, Zulu asked the government to instruct public schools not to demand schools fees but that pupils should be given chance to learn until farmers who sold their maize to the Food Reserve Agency were paid their money.
“It’s a problem that schools are opening when people don’t have money and especially the farmers whose produce was bought by government through FRA and up to now, they have not been paid. We don’t know what they will pay at school. The best thing is for government to allow pupils to learn in these government schools without chasing them until they pay the farmers their money as it is the same money to be paid at school. But for government to chase a child when it’s them holding on to the money for farmers does not make sense. Let no child be chased until we are paid,” Zulu said.
He said the farmers were bitter over government’s delay to pay them for the crops sold to FRA.
“If I say government is doing well, I might offend the farmers but what I can ask our government is to keep promises because what they told us of being paid fast was a lie. Farmers are still languishing and government is holding their money. Government is not doing justice to us farmers,” Zulu said.
He complained that the government had pushed farmers to get loans to survive, a situation he said had robbed the farmers of their incomes.
“Look, because farmers have no money and problems are many, they end up getting loans from village banks and other lending institutions which demand interest such that by the time they try to convert the loan, almost all their money and goods are taken away. Like that, farmers are not helped despite agriculture being a pillar of our nation. A farmer is treated rudely and badly by the government,” Zulu complained.
And Zulu said it was bad that the government had put restrictions on churches while allowing bars to operate for longer hours in the name of fighting cholera.
He further asked the Ministry of Education to state how many hours had been allocated to schools since a group should not meet for more than an hour.
Zulu challenged the government to respect and value churches.
And in a separate interview, headman Cimtima Moses Banda said many parents would have problems finding money to pay school fees for their children.
“There is nowhere people can work, even piece works because parents and business people are broke,” said Banda.