The opposition UPND has expressed concern over shortages and continued hikes in the prices of commodities around the country.
UPND President Hakainde Hichilema said government has oftentimes been warned by various stakeholders to ensure that there is sufficient maize stokes in the country before exporting but that the advise was ignored.
Mr Hichilema said it is shocking to note the levels of incompetence and lack of compassion from the PF government in dealing with the shortages.
“The reported mealie meal shortages and continued hikes in the prices of the commodity in many parts of the country are deeply troubling. The PF Government was regularly warned from various quarters, including the UPND, on the need to ensure sufficient maize was stored before overseeing exports, but as usual chaos and confusion reigned and the people now suffering as a result are the Zambian people.
“The lack of competence and compassion from the PF Government in dealing with the shortage has been shocking from start to finish. Conflicting statements from State House and the Ministry of Agriculture on the availability of maize have exposed the unsuitability and lack of capability of those in office to undertake the duties for which they are paid much more handsomely than the average Zambian who works thankless hours just to be able to afford some breakfast meal, to say nothing of those for whom there are no jobs,” he said.
He said there is lack of coordination and planning in the way government is being run by the PF.
“While President Edgar Lungu and Vice President Inonge Wina have publicly stated the nation needs to import maize due to a shortage, in their usual “chipantepante” way of running government Minister of Agriculture Given Lubinda subsequently reassured us that there was enough maize stock in the country and hence no need to import the commodity. Some weeks later and we now have undeniable reports from many parts of the country that people are struggling to find the commodity and when available, the prices are way beyond what people can afford, especially given the depressed economic situation in the country.
“Surely a government that only oversees an increase in its size of cabinet and the number of trips abroad, while its citizens go hungry and have their very survival threatened, is the very lowest of the low. For those of us outside government we can keep warning and advising government but it would appear they have no capacity to coordinate and plan such things properly, let alone take any real action to remedy the situation,” he said
He added “In the UPND we had spotted this possibility by July last year when we started urging government to check national consumption levels against stores before continuing with exports. We also urged government to quickly provide support to those who can develop value-addition industries in the sector so that what we do export delivers greater value for us and creates jobs.”