FORMER Chilanga UPND member of parliament Captain Cosmas Moono says the country has now degenerated to a level of to whom it may concern as those entrusted to implement government policies are working against the feelings of the people. He accused public officers of stealing from the poor adding that “some of the well-intended projects now have been turned as conduits for siphoning resources from the public.”
Addressing farmers at Munzuma in Choma district who gathered to find ways to reject plans by the Ministry of Agriculture in the area to force them to hold shows, Capt Moono said the meeting was a very good case of why people on the ground in the province were failing to appreciate the PF because the civil service which was supposed to an agent of development was insensitive to the feelings the people.
“The country has now degenerated to a level of to whom it may concern as those entrusted to implement government policies are working against the feelings of the people,” he said. “We need development to make people realise the intentions of government that it is in goodwill, otherwise on the ground there is nobody to implement these things.”
Capt Moono said there was need to have close monitoring system on how civil servants were implement government pronouncements.
“We have a situation here in Choma that needs President Edgar Lungu’s attention. His government announced that Southern province, Lusaka and Western provinces respectively won’t hold agriculture shows because of the droughts. People didn’t yield anything but the civil servants here working together with cooperative leaders requested the Ministry of Agriculture to go ahead with the show because they already collected K500 per each cooperative from farmers and they are telling farmers that if you don’t contribute the K500 then you won’t be given FISP,” he said.
“Now the question is does FISP guidelines say for a farmer to qualify must pay money towards the holding of the agriculture show? Instead of paying back poor farmers this money so that they buy food in their homes, now civil servants want to go ahead and hold the shows so that they get allowances. These are things that makes PF look bad and uncaring to the people. No wonder we want the President himself to hear this so that when people from Southern Province vote against his party he should not think they are tribal but because his own people, the civil servants, are working against him by promoting things that make people hate him. ”
Capt Moono said policies on the ground are not clear.
“Farmers are supposed to get K2,100 under the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) which translates to about seven bags but here in Southern Province farmers are given a bucket as a package after paying K400 while the other fertilizer is misappropriated,” he said.
Moono disclosed that unless there was a clear and close monitoring of the implementation of government policies on the ground people in Southern Province would always be resistant to the ruling party.
“Because how do you vote for a government that says it will give you K2,100 under FISP if you pay K400 and you end up getting a bucket?” he asked. “Public officers on the way are stealing from the poor, some of the well-intended projects now have been turned as conduits for siphoning resources from the public.”
And Moono said the deterioration of infrastructure in Choma like roads when there was a council and provincial administration was saddening.
“Choma is a provincial headquarters but the only thing we have received is high levels of police officers patrolling the roads because division and central police are all there,” said Capt Moono. “No breathing space for ordinary motorists. Instead of Choma getting more resources to develop infrastructure to accommodate the increased population nothing is happening yet we have a provincial administration here. What are they doing that can make people here be convinced that indeed the PF is looking at the plight of the people?”
And speaking on behalf of other 100 headmen that attended the meeting, Siakakole said the traditional leadership was shocked that government through the Ministry of Agriculture in Choma was forcing farmers to hold shows despite the hunger situation.
“Farmers don’t want to hold a show because there is nothing to showcase. We are saying no to the idea of going ahead with the show,” he said. “We are looking forward to relief food, how can we hold a show? If the show is very necessary, let government sponsor it and we shall attend but if it is us the hungry poor people to sponsor it then we are saying no.”
Siakakole said farmers wanted their money they contributed towards holding of the show to be refunded immediately.
But Choma district agriculture coordinating officer (DACO) Robert Tembo said farmers themselves requested government to go ahead with the shows because they were already prepared.
“What is there is that these cooperatives make laws for themselves which they follow. As, my office, we don’t interfere and we have not received any report that farmers are told that if you don’t pay show contributions then you won’t access FISP, that is not true,” said Tembo.