UPND President Hakainde Hichilema says the PF administration is a government that “lets things fall apart”before taking action.
Commenting on the government’s decision to ban the export of maize Mr Hichilema said the PF has finally waken up to the realisation that the shortage of maize is a reality several months after the rest of the country.
He said stakeholders including the Millers Association of Zambia called for such a ban but that as usual the PF ignored the advise.
“After much delay the PF has finally woken up to the reality of maize shortages, several months after the rest of the country. Yesterday the government has banned the export of maize and maize products with immediate effect for an initial period of one week.
“This comes more than five months after the Millers Association of Zambia was calling for such a ban and the alarm had already been sounded by many parties, including the UPND, that stocks were being depleted too quickly and that it was necessary to check stock levels as a matter of urgency. The Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF) issued warnings about the dry spell in August 2015. The PF Government chose to dismiss these concerns.
“As the situation worsened in January we made a plea for Government to hear us on this matter, because this is not just a matter of politics but is a matter of food security, and therefore of life and death for some of our most vulnerable citizens. Yet again, no action was taken and our concerns were dismissed,” said Mr Hichilema in a statement posted on his Facebook page.
He said despite the challenge of maize shortages requiring agent attention the PF refused to give the matter the full and urgent attention it required until reports of empty shelves in shops.
“In the weeks that have followed, reports of empty shelves, rationing and rising prices have circulated, but still the PF refused to give the matter full and urgent attention.
“This is a government that lets things fall apart completely before taking any action, whether its maize, electricity or mining. Rather than addressing problems as they arise they bury their heads in the sand until the problem is so big it can no longer be ignored. Those who bear the cost of this ignorance and inaction are the people,” he said.
He further said instead of the ban the country should be taking advantage of the regional market and earn the much needed foreign exchange.
“However the larger issue here is that Zambia should not even be in a situation where it has to ban the export of maize and related products because we can produce food to feed the whole region of 300 million people. This is a market that, had the PF developed and implemented their agriculture policy properly, we could have been sending 5 million metric tons of maize to South Africa, rather than them buying the same from Brazil. Even as we are struggling with our foreign exchange reserves, Government is closing off sources of FOREX,” he said.
Government yesterday banned the export of maize as a mitigating measure to avert the continued shortages of mealie meal in the country.