Technocrats in government ministries have stopped giving advice because they are afraid that what they speak will run contrary to what politicians say, the National Union for Small-Scale Farmers of Zambia (NUSFAZ) has observed.
And the Union has advised that President Edgar Lungu should listen to expert advice on technical matters that are beyond Amos Chanda and Kaizer Zulu’s capacity because they are not experts in all fields.
In an interview, Dr Kayula said technocrats had now stopped rendering professional technical advice to policymakers because it usually ran contrary to what politicians were saying.
He observed that solutions to stabilise mealie meal prices could be offered to President Lungu, but that the Head of State only listened to a few people closer to him at the expense of embracing expert advice given in the public interest.
“There are solutions that we can have, but our government sometimes does not listen; we are telling them to listen to what the technocrats are saying. We have had meetings with government as well as agriculture consultative forums; government also has got its own forums used to share ideas. These meetings are enough for government to listen. Apart from that, stakeholders are speaking on radio, different fora, but it seems our President (has) too little powers. I remember (late president) Mwanawasa would call experts, even at State House at whatever time for something that is troubling him, this is why he probably performed better than some of our leaders in the past and present; he was able to identify experts. Of course, he had people who were advising him, but he was able to say: ‘hey, guys, who can we consult on this issue?’ They don’t need to consult the farmers’ union for small scale farmers, for example, but they can find any expert. All experts in Zambia are available to government for advice, free of charge; no one would charge. And government leaders should be able to know that these people are advising because they are patriotic, they want the government to work well; but that is not happening in the current regime. They consult amongst themselves as ministers as if they are experts in everything! They consult when they meet as MPs for a particular party; that’s not sufficient!” Dr Kayula said.
“We have so many experts in different fields who can advise and help this country to run profitably. The way the economy of this country is running, even us who are not experts in the world of economics, we are crying! But there are a lot of experts. Let this government listen, they should not be adamant to think that only ministers in Cabinet and only a few people are important; let them also listen to the technocrats in the Ministries; those guys are intelligent, but they are not giving advice because they are afraid to speak contrary to what politicians in government are saying.”
And Dr Kayula advised that President Lungu should listen to expert advice on technical matters that were beyond Chanda and Zulu’s capacity because they were not experts in all fields.
“Let the President listen to experts, he should not only be listening to Mr Amos Chanda and Mr Kaizer Zulu, of course, they are employed to advise him, but they are not experts in all fields! Government’s insistence to ban export of mealie meal has created a situation where milling companies want to make similar money that they could have been making if they were trading their products outside; they want to make that same money here in Zambia and, hence, they are increasing the prices. I contend, always, that there is a relationship, even if it’s very little, in our current situation between the export ban and mealie meal prices because ever since mealie meal export ban was put in place, mealie meal prices have continued going up. This means that mealie meal exports were not a cause of the shooting up of mealie meal prices; it is the greed amongst the milling companies to make a lot of money out of what they are having. And this is what farmers have said; it is very unfair because the farmers sell their maize to these millers at a very low price. But the milling companies are making huge profits out of the sweat of small -scale farmers. It is the milling companies which need to sit and say ‘why should we make these profits over what we have gotten from the farmers?” asked Dr Kayula.
“So, what government needed to have done was to ensure that there was a flow of maize mill, even the export can be allowed under the current circumstances. The blockage is creating uncertainty to the future in the sense that those that could have ordered maize from here are looking for other more friendly markets than ours. And we are saying that will impact negatively on small-scale farmers who could have sold their maize to companies who could have exported some, are not able to do so. This outcome, which government is not looking at, but only focusing on food security, will spell doom to the country’s economy!”