ACKSON Sejani has charged that life is turning into hell for people living in parts of Zambia where there was crop failure due to either severe drought or floods.
Currently, the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) – a government unit under the Office of the Vice-President – is distributing relief food to selected needy areas of the country.
Prolonged dry spells in the 2018/2019 rainy season destroyed crops in Southern, Western, Eastern, Lusaka and some parts of Central Province.
Conversely, in Lunga island district of Luapula Province, crops were destroyed by flooding.
Amid severe hunger, there is another misfortune in Southern Province in that the government has imposed a livestock movement ban as a way of forestalling the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).
Sejani, a former local government minister in Frederick Chiluba’s government, says some window should have been created in the livestock movement ban to allow farmers to offload some of their animals to save their children from hunger.
“Life is turning into hell for the people in the provinces you have mentioned! Under normal circumstances, people would have resorted to selling their animals to raise money for food, especially in the absence of a government relief programme,” Sejani said in an interview.
“The ban on livestock movement is, therefore, a death sentence for the people of Southern, Western, North-Western, Central and other affected areas.”
He indicated that government policy must be to save and better the lives of citizens, first and foremost.
Sejani, a former Mapatizya member of parliament, added that if government policy did anything else, “then it is not worth having it at all.”
“Under some supervision, animals must be allowed to move. In any case, a worse tragedy awaits farmers in drought-stricken provinces in that these same animals face death through lack of grass and drinking water,” Sejani said.
“So, in the end, it will look like we are keeping these animals just to watch them die. This policy, in the end, will have killed both the people and the animals! Of what use then will it be?”
Sejani proposed that a more sensitive and sensible approach was found to save the lives of both the people and the remaining animals because: “money raised from sale of some animals will save people and the animals left.”