The Ruling Patriotic Front (PF) Media team has refuted the story published by Lusaka Times yesterday alleging that Agriculture Minister Michael Katambo believed that opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema was conniving with milling companies to hike the price of mealie meal.
In a statement released to the media and signed by PF Media Director Sunday Chanda, the ruling party described the story as Fake News being at it again. Mr Chanda further said that he had called the Minister of Agriculture and PF Member of the Central Committee Hon Michael Katambo who expressed ignorance of the story and said that he had not given any such interview to any media house neither did he utter any such remarks.
Lusakatimes can confirm that the story that was published yesterday DID NOT quote Hon Katambo or report that the Minister had given an interview to any media house, but rather quoted people close to him, who have thus far maintained that the version of their story is true.
According to people close to Mr Katambo, the Minister said that he had evidence to link Mr Hichilema to the mealie meal price hikes.
“Minister Katambo is convinced that HH is the one behind this whole thing saying he wants to use the mealie meal situation to make the PF government unpopular. The Minister says HH is hoping the PF will go out of government because of mealie meal after a public revolt,” the sources revealed.
The sources who work with Mr Katambo at the Ministry of Agriculture Headquarters revealed that the Minister has been going around claiming that Mr Hichilema is one of the major investors in most of the big milling plants in the country.
They disclosed that Mr Katambo is also accusing Mr Hichilema of conspiring with rich commercial farmers to hold Maize and starve the milling plants in order to cause an artificial shortage.
“The Minister is telling everyone that HH is an investor in these milling plants such as Simba Milling and that he is now using his business muscle to trigger price hikes.”
Below is the full media response from PF Media Team
PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FAKE NEWS AT IT AGAIN
Following several queries from the media and general public, I have called the Hon Minister of Agriculture and PF Member of the Central Committee Hon Michael Katambo who has expressed ignorance regarding this story.
The general public is therefore informed that remarks attributed to Hon Minister of Agriculture and PF Member of the Central Committee Hon Michael Katambo in the attached article are false as he has not given any such interview to any media house neither did he utter any such remarks.
The Minister believes that this fake story is a product of pure malice by high priests of falsehood and fake news.
Hon Katambo, MCC, regrets that a credible platform such as Lusaka Times could allow itself to play the role of conveying fake news of this magnitude even after being reminded that the story was nothing but another politically engineered hogwash.
The Minister has, therefore, demanded that Lusaka Times retracts this story and corrects the wrong impression created immediately.
He is further disappointed that some people have attempted to score cheaply by posting this fake story to their Twitter accounts. These are the same people who sponsor and generate falsehoods they later consume in order to dupe the unsuspecting masses of our people.
Sunday Chilufya Chanda
PF Media Director