ANDREW Banda says the shortage of mealie-meal in the country is a question of lack of good leadership.
And Andrew, a former diplomat, says Lusaka Province minister Bowman Lusambo is simply a thug who kidnapped youths who were buying mealie-meal from Shoprite Matero.
Andrew in a statement said that for the first time since 1990, when there were mealie-meal shortages which culminated in riots countrywide and consequently leading to the downfall of the “mighty UNIP” government, Zambia today finds itself in a similar situation.
“We as UPND have been warning and advising government on a number of issues such as overborrowing which has resulted in the fall of the kwacha against the dollar. We have been warning against the escalating levels of violence, which have resulted in a number of deaths of our citzens. The same violence has engulfed the PF itself. We have been warning against procurement of fertiliser and fuel from expensive sources using middlemen. The result has been high prices of these two commodities which are out of reach of most Zambians,” he stated.
“We have been warning about high electricity tariffs and continued load-shedding, among others. We are yet again warning the PF government of the consequences of the shortage of mealie-meal and subsequent high price of the same. Consequences could be like the riots of the 1990, which we do not want to see happen. How is it possible for a country which produces on average 3 million metric tonnes of maize of which 500,000 metric tonnes is what is required for consumption the whole Zambia, leaving a surplus of 2.5 million tonnes that is equivalent food requirement for five years?”
Andrew said the problem Zambia had was having leaders like Bowman Lusambo and others who were not analytical, objective and visionary.
“How can an entire Lusaka Province minister kidnap young children buying mealie-meal in Shoprite in bulk without analysing the root cause of all this? This Lusambo chap is simply a thug without any grey matter at all and does not deserve to be a minister. The shortage of mealie-meal in the country is a question of lack of good leadership which lacks vision,” he said.
“How can this country move forward or develop with ministers of the calibre of Lusaka Province minister Bowman Lusambo who is holding the whole country at ransom by behaving in a thuggary manner and yet he is tolerated by the appointing authority. And there are a number of them who behave in the same manner. They simply don’t have the attributes of a leader or minister. We in the UPND, through our leadership, have been warning the PF government not to export maize to neighbouring countries.”
Andrew said most patriotic and enlightened Zambians were sick and tired of the likes of Lusambo and were wondering why President Lungu could tolerate “such an ignorant distractive fellow.”
“Someone has to tell off this thug who is also not analytical and simply lacks vision and one wonders whether he has any grey matter in his head. How can he be allowed to kidnap innocent children as he did last week in Shoprite without him analysing the root cause? He should blame himself and his government,” Andrew said. “In any case, what he did is simply criminal. It is very sad that all parties that have ruled Zambia have had the likes of Lusambo. UNIP and MMD had them and now PF have the same.”
Andrew said African Milling Company mealie-meal has flooded Malawi through smuggling via Mwami border post and the commodity was fetching as much as K260.00 to K280.00 per bag.
He said the people behind the smuggling of mealie-meal into Malawi were members of the ruling PF who were privileged to buy cheap maize from FRA (strategic food reserves) at the expense of the suffering Zambians.
He stated that the question that begs answers was what was ZNS and ZRA doing to have so many tonnes of mealie-meal smuggled into Malawi.
“We are aware that this is also what happens on the borders of Congo DR and the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Zambians must also not forget that most of the recent by-elections gobbled thousands and thousands of tonnes of mealie-meal from African Milling Company after the government sold cheap maize to them from FRA in order to reduce the price of mealie-meal from K195.00 today to K136.00 per bag and these were instructions from the Head of State. In fact, the PF government with impunity refused to take advice from our leadership,” he stated.
“This is what has caused the mess we find ourselves in today and those in power cannot feel the high cost of mealie-meal and they seem not to even care. Speaking as a farmer myself, I know that the current crop that they are excited about – that it will be a bumper harvest – will not be ready until after mid May. The price will continue escalating and for a family of six to seven, they need K7,800.00 to K8,000 per month for them to afford mealie-meal at K260.00 to K280.00.”
Andrew stated that from the K7,800, they have to pay rent, electricity, water, school fees and other unforeseen expenses like medical bills.
“Simply put, we are heading for trouble like in 1990. We are serving notice to the PF government that if this situation is not arrested immediately, we are headed for trouble and the PF government must take responsibility. No irresponsible, stupid, foolish and reckless statements will be accepted from those charged with the responsibility of arresting the situation,” stated Andrew, a founding member of the opposition UPND.