PATRIOTIC Front deputy spokesperson Frank Bwalya has accused Southern Province chiefs of sabotaging the government’s farming input distribution process.

At a media briefing in Lusaka today, December 27, 2016, Bwalya claimed the chiefs were ordering their subjects not to collect inputs.

“Unfortunately, we have verified information from Southern province indicating that some chiefs, headmen and women are telling peasant farmers not to collect and plant seed distributed by GRZ saying that the government was late in delivering the inputs. These traditional leaders are misleading unsuspecting farmers that it is too late to plant hence they shouldn’t collect inputs. Two chiefs and one headwoman have been quoted saying disparaging remarks against the leadership of President [Edgar] Lungu and accused him of knowing nothing about agriculture hence the relative delay in delivering farming inputs,” Bwalya said.

“Hungry people can pose a danger in society. Therefore we strongly believe that the traditional leaders who are discouraging peasant farmers in Southern Province from on grounds that it is late are not only compromising food security but endangering national security as well…we believe that what these traditional leaders are doing is unacceptable. It is a recipe for hunger and associated suffering.”

The PF official lamented that government could not afford to feed too many people in case of a food crisis in 2017.
“GRZ cannot afford to feed our people in the case of hunger. This is the rationale behind the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) buying crops such as rice and maize for strategic reserves…we all know that our government will be walking a tight rope in terms of raising money for huge competing needs in critical sectors therefore it is criminal to try to create problems for government by creating hunger in a province where political anger against the President and PF is rife,” Bwalya said.

He said the PF had launched an investigation to find out the real motive behind the actions of the leaders whom he said are clearly trying to create a national food crisis.

“We are investigating the real motive for the action of these traditional leaders who are clearly trying to create a crisis regarding food security. Given the reality that some leaders are notorious in praying for national tragedy believing that they can rise on the back of national misfortune to get into power, we are leaving no stone unturned in getting to the bottom of the motive of the culprits. We are going to update the public once our investigations are concluded,” said Bwalya.