President Edgar Lungu’s directive to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to increase their maize purchase price from K65.00 per 50Kg bag is just an ‘old trick’ which cannot make the PF win July 26 Mayoral by-elections, says UPND chairperson for agriculture, food and water development Levy Ngoma.

And Ngoma has challenged President Lungu to adjust the maize price from K65 to K100 within two days, if he really meant what he said.

On Sunday, President Lungu directed the FRA to review and adjust upwards the price of maize, saying the recently announced K65 per 50 Kilogramme bag, was “unfair to farmers.”

President Lungu, who was speaking during a rally in Chipangali constituency in Easter Province where he went to drum up support for the PF candidate in the Chipangali District Council chairperson election, said government might not have the money, but it had to support farmers to boost the country’s crop production.

But in an interview, Monday, Ngoma said the directive by President Lungu was laughable because he only acted during election periods.

He charged that the ruling party had no clear vision for agriculture.

“For us in UPND, this behaviour, these utterances are laughable although we choose not to laugh over this issue because it is a serious matter. Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, one; is a liar and has got no clear vision for agriculture together with his PF in Zambia. Because it is very clear that he only acts as a caring fellow when there are elections. We are alive to the fact that in 2015/2016 farming season, because there was a general election when FRA set the price at K60, because of that general election, which threatened his hold on power, he acted swiftly, moved in and pushed the price from K60 to K80,” Ngoma recalled.

“Unfortunately, in the 2016/2017 farming season when there was no election in sight, there was a similar or rather, same outcry from the farmers and other stakeholders across the country. What he said, again because there was a by-election somewhere because he had gone to some by-election in Eastern Province, he directed FRA to revisit the price. Immediately, the by-election went away, after the people voted, he went mute.”

He further said that the directive was just an “old trick” because President Lungu had seen that by-elections, slated for this Thursday, were fast-approaching.

“Now that there are by-elections, again he comes with the same old tricks that the price of K65, which the FRA has set must be revisited. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see a clear pattern on how Mr Lungu behaves when elections are in sight. To Mr Lungu, we want to say that, it is immoral and evil to play politics over food and economic well-being of the farmers because it is very clear that Mr Lungu and the PF have come to steal and destroy agriculture in Zambia. Our message to the Zambian people is that, it is only UPND that can bring about life in agriculture because we care and have got a clear vision for this country, most for in agriculture,” Ngoma, the former Sinda MMD member of parliament, added.

He called upon farmers to ignore President Lungu’s directive.

“We are calling upon farmers to ignore that directive from Mr Lungu. Going forward, they should only be believing his actions, not his words. Now that there are by-elections across the country, he has gone back to his old tricks,” he said.

And Ngoma challenged the President to adjust the maize price from K65 to K100 within 48 hours, if he meant what he said.

“If he really means what he is saying, we demand that within 48 hours, Mr Lungu should come clean and true to his words by adjusting this price of maize from K65 to K100 failure to which farmers should just ignore him, but show their displeasure by not casting their votes for the PF in this coming by-election. What is bothering me now is the fact that, you don’t play politics over the economic well-being of the people and that’s what Mr Lungu and PF are doing,” said Ngoma.