Copperbelt-based Catholic Priest Fr George Mulenga has questioned why Zambia is experiencing a critical shortage of mealie meal when it has been recording bumper harvests in recent years.
People have been lining up in some parts of the country when buying the staple commodity with mealie meal prices rising nearly to K300 per 25 KG bag in border towns such as Ndola, Mufulira, Chililabombwe and Masaiti.
Rampant smuggling of mealie meal to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has worsened the mealie meal situation in the Copperbelt Province.
In his recent sermon at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Kankoyo, Mufulira, Fr. Mulenga said the nation has not managed well food security and the mealie meal situation.
He warned that serious hunger was looming in the country following the reported shortage of mealie meal in many towns coupled with smuggling.
Fr Mulenga said if the smuggling of mealie meal is not curtailed it will negatively affect the living standards of people who are queuing up for the commodity.
Fr. Mulenga said it was unacceptable for Zambia to experience mealie meal shortage when the country recorded a bumper harvest just last year.
“As we look at the problems affecting us, even our nation has many problems. If you look carefully our country has issues. Last year, we recorded a bumper harvest, this year we are fighting to buy mealie meal. This is worrying me, problems are in our midst. If I look around, many people are lining up to buy mealie meal. The other day I found many people lining up to buy mealie meal at Mataba Milling outlet. People wanted to go inside the shop to buy mealie meal and those who had already bought mealie meal were still around. Then I asked myself what those who had bought mealie meal were waiting for. Were they waiting for transport or what? What I saw at Mataba Milling was not child play. Where has the bumper harvest gone? People cannot be lining up for mealie meal as if we didn’t have a bumper harvest just last year. Truly it is either we don’t have mealie meal or we have. I don’t know.”
“You have heard there are two things; it is either we don’t have mealie meal or we have to start fighting. On the other side I am hearing that there are some people who are going to sell mealie meal outside the country. On one hand you are seeing people lining up for mealie meal depicting a shortage but on the other hand we are hearing that some people are selling mealie meal outside the country. So I don’t understand if we really have a shortage of mealie meal. Is there mealie meal shortage or it is us people with a problem. My brothers and sisters let me do so, is there anyone with paper money? This is K20 (showing money to the congregation), this money is making people kill their mothers. We are also hearing that mothers are killing children over money. Many people love money too much.
He said that leaders at various levels should have a fore sight and safeguard the country’s staple food from being smuggled.
“This (money) is a piece of paper and it is different from mealie meal. Therefore, a good shepherd is supposed to have foresight. A good shepherd should be able to differentiate mealie meal from paper (money). Bushe namuikata iyo ndelandapo, a good shepherd should have sikopo. Ukwisula kwa ama markets, ama doors awe kuti mwachita mingle, mwashitishako. That doesn’t mean mufwile Mwaba very illegal pantu abantu bamo limo limo mwalasanga ukuti beleisa mukulabako ku Calo because of love for money. Elyo soon or later mu Zambia ubunga bwalabulila. Mark my words. This is happening some of your shepherds are not responsible. If you look, floods have affected some crops so we are not expecting to have a bumper harvest. You will testify. Secondly, fertiliser was distributed late. Some crops are not growing as expected. I don’t know if you will have a proper harvest. A good shepherd is supposed to have a proper approach to see, he must be an overseer, who looks to the future. Nomba mungulu mungulu you are exporting mealie meal without realising that you are bringing hunger to the nation. Hunger is coming, I can see it. Prepare your stomach to go agree and tighten your belts. Be prepared to shiver because of hunger,” Fr. Mulenga said.