NASON Msoni says politics of deception by the PF, in the wake of massive starvation among Zambians, are not welcome and is tantamount to mockery.
The price of mealie-meal in different towns across the country is sharply escalating, almost out of control.
In the wake of that, chief government spokesperson Dora Siliya issued a press statement on Thursday afternoon.
“Government wishes to express great concern over the high price of mealie-meal which is reported to have reached K150 for 25 kg bag of breakfast and K120 for a 25 kg bag of Roller meal, in some cases,” Siliya stated.
“This is a matter of grave concern to the government and this morning (Thursday), the acting President, Mrs Inonge Mutukwa Wina summoned the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Michael Katambo.”
She added that the government resolved, among other things, not to stand by and watch the staple food go out of reach of ordinary Zambians.
“The acting President has instructed the Minister of Agriculture to immediately arrest the price distortions in the market. For example, the price of a 25 kg bag of breakfast is selling at K150 in Sioma in Western Province and similarly at K150 in Lusaka and the Copperbelt. stated Siliya.
“This is a clear case of price distortion by unscrupulous retailers who wish to enjoy abnormal profits at the expense of ordinary Zambians. You would expect the price of mealie-meal to be cheaper in Lusaka and the Copperbelt because that is where milling plants are located.”
But Msoni, who is opposition All People’s Congress (APC) president, in a press statement, cautioned the government against engaging itself into cheap publicity stunts: “by asserting that it will not stand-by and watch the staple food go beyond the reach of citizens.”
“The matter at hand is far too serious to engage in public relation stunts as these matters borders on national security and social stability,” Msoni stated.
“We expect this government to address the matter of the rising cost of mealie-meal with the utmost urgency and sincerity than resorting to issuing statements merely meant to hoodwink and cheat the public. Politics of deception in the wake of massive starvation of our citizens are not welcome and is tantamount to mocking citizens.”
He stated that it was not expected that the government should be expressing empathy but that it must be seen to be practically addressing the situation.
Msoni added that no one believed that agriculture minister Michael Katambo should be part of the solution of suppressing mealie meal prices when: “he is the problem and the source of the rising costs of mealie meal by his act of lifting of the ban on the export of the maize.”
“We don’t think that he can be a useful vessel in finding a solution,” Msoni stated.
“Our expectations are that Hon. Katambo should be considering stepping down for failing Zambians and for causing untold misery and suffering for our people. Obviously, in this case, involving the culprit is tantamount to appointing a witch into being a witch-finder.”
The opposition leader stressed that the government, for once, must demonstrate seriousness on the matter at hand.
“We don’t expect any serious government to be running around like a headless chicken without a solution. The question is where are the strategic reserves to help relieve and alleviate the pressure on the market?” stated Msoni.
“The solution does not lie to running to millers or retailers or to force them to reduce the prices but unleashing the maize on the market from the strategic reserves. All indications are that the maize was exported foolishly, depleting the reserves.”