Several opposition political party leaders have held a press briefing in Lusaka to comment on various issues affecting the nation such as the delayed distribution of farm inputs under Government support (FISP).
Citizens First (CF) leader Harry Kalaba spoke at the briefing alongside Wynter Kabimba of Economic Front, Sean Tembo of PeP, NDC’s Saboi Imboela and Jackson Silavwe of the Golden Party.
Patriotic Front (PF) National Chairperson for Publicity Raphael Nakacinda was also present.
The opposition political party leaders further commented on the operations of institutions of governance such as police, electoral commission and judiciary.
On FISP, the leaders urged President Hakainde Hichilema to direct the Zambia National Service (ZNS) to help with the distribution of farm inputs countrywide to avert hunger next year.
The distribution and delivery of farm inputs under the revised Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) has been filled with delays and confusion in the registration of beneficiaries and quantities per recipient.
In his remarks, Mr. Kalaba said any further delay in the delivery of fertiliser and seed to farmers would have a devastating impact on the 2022/2023 farming season.
Mr. Kalaba said President Hichilema should immediately order the ZNS to help with the farm input distribution because it had the capacity to manage the exercise.
He was disappointed that the inputs were still marooned in warehouses in the middle of November.
“We are calling on the President to call upon the Zambia National Service to help in the distribution of inputs. Please, let them get involved as they have the capacity to manage such logistical challenges before the roads become impassable,” he said.
Mr Kalaba attributed the delay in the delivery of the inputs and the confusion that has marred the exercise to poor economic management and the government’s lack of understanding of the sector.
He accused the New Dawn government of being more interested in who won the tender for the supply and distribution than the plight of the farmers.
“How do you justify the fact that today, 16th November, farm inputs are still marooned in warehouses, and in some cases suppliers and distributors need to be identified?” Mr Kalaba questioned.
He condemned the reduction of the quantities of the inputs given to each farmer.
“It was unacceptable for the Ministry of Agriculture to force 40 farmers to share eight bags of fertiliser. That is a ratio of four to one. How do four people share one bag of fertiliser, and you go out there claiming that you are good economic managers, “Mr Kalaba said.
He urged the UPND government to talk less and work more for the good of citizens.
At the same occasion CF president Wynter Kabimba condemned the awarding of contracts to private firms in which Mr Hichilema had personal interests to audit defence and security services at a huge cost to the nation.
And GPZ president Jackson Silavwe challenged Zambians not to be intimidated by the increasing violence by the UPND against its political opponents.
MDC president Saboi Imboela bemoaned the escalating violation of human rights by the police.
Meanwhile, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) President Kasonde Mwenda has written to President Hichilema asking him to declare a farming-inputs supply emergency to quicken procurement and distribution of farming-inputs.
“Your Excellency, President Hakainde Hichilema, we the Economic Freedom Fighters-EFF party advise that in the interest of saving lives of over 70% Zambians who derive their livelihood from farming, and in the interest of saving our ailing economy from a possible collapse due to looming 2022/23 farming season crop failure emanating from a slow/non-delivery of farming inputs (fertilizer) to farmers; may you expeditiously declare a farming inputs supply emergency so that your government can expressly procure and distribute farming inputs with legal immunity from the encumbrance and time delays of the procurement processes before it is too late. The rains are upon us already but we are reliably informed that some of the Suppliers of farming inputs failed to deliver mostly due to lack of capacity and by procurement hurdles that your administration is facing,” Mr. Mwenda wrote
“Your Excellency Mr. President, you can prevent this catastrophe from happening since the Zambian Law has empowered you as President to remedy it through express procurement and distribution provided you proclaim Emergency regulations as guided in Emergency Powers Act , Chapter 108, Sec(3) (1): “whenever an emergency proclamation is in force the President may, by statutory instrument, make such regulations as appear to him to be necessary -for maintaining supplies and services essential to the life of the community. Your expedient intervention to save lives is of essence,” he stated.