Former agriculture and livestock deputy minister Lackson Kazabu says it is ridiculous for Zambia to start exporting maize to neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) when the country itself does not have sufficient stock.

Agriculture Minister Michael Katambo last week said the government was finalising a Memorandum of Understanding with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for exports of maize and other crops.

However, Kazabu has said the decision has been made in bad faith by those entrusted with the responsibility of running the affairs of the country.

“It’s ridiculous! It is an act of irresponsibility! It is like you know you live in a home with your family and next to you is some neighbor and then you have bought enough mealie meal for your family and what do you do next? You take that mealie meal and give it to your neighbor, leaving your own home without mealie meal. Does it make any sense?” Kazabu asked.

“Common logic will tell you that no! You have to look after your family [and give others] only if you have a surplus. We don’t have food and we should export. That memorandum of understanding is in bad faith; it is an act of irresponsibility by those people who have been entrusted with the running of the affairs of this country.”

He said the government should revisit its stance on the matter.

“I think it is a matter that they should revisit and only ensure that if they want to export whatever through that memorandum of understanding, that only happens after our people have been secured foodwise at a household level; that is what you do. That is what the Food Reserve Agency was established for – to manage the food stuffs that we produce and ensure that there is food security at household level. That is the chorus we also sang when I was at the Ministry of Agriculture. And for us, we would not entertain anybody thinking about exporting maize if we were not satisfied that the stocks are sufficient,” Kazabu said.

He said the government should stop doing public relations with the hunger situation in the country and that practical actions needed to be taken on the matter.

“Government itself has informed the nation that we have sufficient maize stock to ensure that no one dies of hunger. That being the case therefore, one wonders as to why in some parts of the country, some people are feeding on wild fruits, wild roots. This is not a matter they should be doing some public relations on,” Kazabu said.

“We want to see practical actions designed to ensure that food reaches our people wherever they may be, those that have no food. And we all know why many of our people may have no food. We were not blessed [with good rains] in the previous season. So government should not be entertaining people with rhetoric, they should be practical.”

And Kazabu said Zambians should no longer be bribed with gifts ahead of the 2021 general election.

“I want to say to the Zambian people that time has come for them not to be bribed by any kind of gift. For how long are they going to be bribed with gifts as we move towards elections, during the campaigns and things like that? Surely, you can only be cheated once; if the person comes to you again, I guess you should have your eyes and head open to be able to say ‘no, you cheated me last time but not again’,” said Kazabu.