Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP) has charged that the reluctance by government to declare a national disaster in hunger-hit areas is motivated by the fact that the affected areas are predominantly opposition strongholds.
Southern, Western, Central and parts of Lusaka provinces experienced total crop failure in the 2018/2019 farming season meaning that households in these areas did not harvest anything that would help to sustain their livelihoods up to the next agricultural season.
Commenting on the hunger situation in these areas, Tembo argued that government was not committed to providing much-needed food relief in the affected parts because they were perceived opposition strongholds.
“We are compelled to conclude that the PF government is indirectly punishing the people of Western Province, Southern, Central and parts of Lusaka Province for voting for the opposition in the 2016 general elections in the insidious hope that these people can be beaten into submission and compelled to vote for PF in 2021,” Tembo said in an interview.
“As we have noted with regret the reluctance of the PF government to declare as a national disaster, the drought that has devastated certain areas of the country, including Western Province, Southern, Central and parts of Lusaka Province. As we speak right now, our fellow citizens in these affected areas are starving and their livestock has started dying in large numbers due to lack of water! It is only a matter of time before our fellow citizens start dying of hunger in these affected areas.”
Tembo said it was disappointing that the PF and its government were using national resources as a political tool even in emergencies.
“As Patriots for Economic Progress, we are disappointed by the habit of the PF and its government to use the allocation of national resources as a political tool, and to deny a constituent of our citizens that do not believe in the PF failed leadership, a fair allocation of national resources even in emergency times, such as drought. The repeated failure by the PF and its government to separate issues of national governance from issues of politics and political mileage is extremely regrettable!”
He said the PF must not be allowed to play politics with the citizens who were suffering and grappling with hunger.
“As Patriots for Economic Progress, we are hopeful that the citizens of this Republic have learnt a lesson not to entrust national leadership to small-minded and petty individuals, who are incapable of drawing a line on when to stop politicking and start offering national leadership. The PF and its government can play politics with the FIC Trends Report; they can play politics with the 42 fire tenders bought at US $1 million each; they can play politics with the fraudulent NDF, but they should not be allowed to play politics with the lives of our fellow citizens who are about to perish in drought-hit areas of Western Province, Southern, Central and parts of Lusaka Province,” said Tembo.
So far, government, through the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) under the Office of the Vice-President, has maintained that there is no need to declare the drought-hit areas a disaster as the situation does not merit such a declaration, while food relief deliveries were ongoing.