(By Edwin Mbulo in Kalomo)
A CRITICAL shortage of mealie-meal shortage has hit Kalomo district, forcing residents to scramble for the product in long queues. And UPND Southern Province information and publicity deputy secretary Neto Halwabala says millers in the area are having problems purchasing maize for milling. A survey by The Mast in Kalomo found several residents waiting for Choma mealie-meal which was being off-loaded by press time. A check at the main central business market found several residents almost besieging a truck that had just delivered mealie-meal from Choma as some youths off-loaded the product.
“Tula chibona mwakauno (we shall suffer this year),” one resident commented.
Last week Sinazongwe district commissioner Protacial Mulenga revealed that mealie-meal in his district was being sold for as much as K120, while Livingstone acting district commissioner Harriet Kawina said there is going to be starvation as crops in surrounding villages had withered. Mulenga said between 60,000 to 80,000 people in chief Mweemba’s area were under threat of hunger.
“The general situation in the district is that despite us distributing fertiliser and seed on time, the challenge has been on rains…we have opened up a depot where people can buy maize because traders have pegged the price of a 25-kilogramme bag of mealie-meal at between K120 and K110. Only Zambeef is selling the commodity at between K90 and K97, but this is usually quickly sold-out,” Mulenga said.
He named the other affected areas as Malima and Chiyabi. Kawina said about 20 per cent of the crop could recover if it rains within 10 days. She named the affected areas in Livingstone as being Simonga, Sinde, Kasiya and Natebe, adding that crop assessment by agricultural officers was still ongoing.
“We will continue assessing the situation and report according,” she said.
However, Halwabala said the PF would deny the shortage of the staple food in Kalomo.
“It is sad to note that there is shortage of mealie-meal in Kalomo district…millers in the province are having challenges to find maize, a sign of hunger spreading in the province,” he said.
“We are aware that there is no by-election in Kalomo district and the PF would not care to control the situation but focusing on areas where there are by-elections and distributing mealie-meal to cheat people that it is a caring government and as a way of buying votes,” Halwabala said.
He challenged the PF to prove that there was enough maize to last till next year.
“People are starving and PF wants to export maize and cheat that we have enough maize to last until 2020 and 2021. Let them show us proof by supplying millers this maize,” Halwabala said.
He encouraged Zambians not to lose hope as help from God was on its way through the UPND and its leader Hakainde Hichilema.
“God will wipe your tears away and give you a responsible government of HH,” said Halwabala.