Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya says farmers in the country are singing praises for President Edgar Lungu and the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) for giving them a good maize price.

And Siliya has advised NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili to stop taking the fight against corruption as a joke.

Meanwhile, Siliya said President Lungu acted in the best interest of the public by revoking the appointment of George Siame as board chairperson for Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC).

Speaking at a press briefing in Lusaka, Thursday, Siliya who is also Information Minister, said the farmers are “extremely happy with the PF government”.

“Of course the farmers were very happy. If the millers go to buy from them at K180, the farmers are very happy with this government. They are singing praises for the president and saying ‘may he live forever’ because the government gave them fertilizer, the government gave them seed and then the private sector went to buy from them at K180. They are singing praises and saying ‘may the president live forever.’ Of course, the ones who are complaining are us here in Lusaka. Those farmers are extremely happy with the PF government,” Siliya said.

She insisted that there is no hunger in the country, adding that despite the drought, the country still managed to produce 2.4 million metric tonnes of maize during the 2018/2019 farming season.

But official data availed by the Ministry of Agriculture showed that Zambia recorded around 2,004,389 metric tonnes of maize in the 2018-2019 agricultural season, down from 2.4 million tonnes produced the previous year, a second successive drop and 10-year low, triggered by severe drought conditions.
“Because we have reduced in terms of maize production, at one point we had produced 3.7 [million and] now we are producing 2.4 [million], it means that we have to be careful how we support our neighbours because we need to keep food ready for our people in Zambia. But because people have been sending negative sentiments and saying ‘there should be a disaster declaration in Zambia’, there was panic when buying [maize] thereby increasing prices which have gone on to affect the consumers,” Siliya said.

“There is a disaster in Southern Province because Southern Province normally is a good producer. [For] Western Province, every year, there is hunger, especially in Shang’ombo. Eastern Province [also], every year [there is hunger], even when the rains are good, there is hunger in the valley along the Luangwa River. But Southern Province is a special case because normally when there is rain, they are like one of the biggest producers. So the fact that there was drought, all crops failed in Southern Province. There is enough food within our borders. It’s not a national disaster [and] there is no need to declare a national disaster because now we have to move food from the Northern part of Zambia where it is, to Southern province and that is what is happening. This year, even though Southern Province [which is] a good producer [of maize] has failed, the country has still produced 2.4 million metric tonnes.”

And Siliya advised Kambwili to stop creating jokes out of the fight against corruption.

“When you hear that somebody has been arrested because of corruption, it is because we are doing the work. When we say ‘Mr Kambwili come and help with the information’, it is because we have…laws that provide for whistle blowers so that if you have information, don’t just be calling radios and making headlines. We want the police to do their job. So come and share what you know. Don’t just hold press conferences. You tell us that ‘we know this one is corrupt’…maybe the police don’t have that information. But when they say ‘come to the police’ [and] you say ‘no I am sick [and] I was just advising…’ We have to stop making the fight against corruption a joke,” she said.

Siliya said some opposition political parties were just scouts centered around individuals.

“We in government take the fight against corruption very seriously but the opposition want to make it a joke. If you are really concerned about corruption, don’t just hold press briefings, go and report corruption. The opposition is becoming boring by always making corruption tantrums. So the opposition in this country is absolutely non-existent except in name only. Some of them are just scouts centered around individuals. They are not even opposition parties. So I am happy today that in spite of the campaign to vilify or paint Zambia black, our friends, the Americans, are standing with us, our friends, the Chinese, are standing with us, our friends, the Germans, are standing with us, our friends, the Israelites, are standing with us. And that shows that people have confidence in this government,” she said.

Siliya further said the song about corruption had become boring, adding that even investigative wings were fed up of it.

“Our friends in the opposition spend all their day trying to paint Zambia black as a way to get to State House. Even corruption can’t be an agenda to get to State House. Your (opposition) solution to the people of Zambia is ‘PF is corrupt.’ It’s really becoming boring because we are doing the work. Anybody who has nothing to say just says ‘the PF is corrupt’ [or] ‘president Lungu is corrupt.’ We refuse to make the fight against corruption a joke because we know that corruption can erode the confidence in a country. We have said nobody is spared in this country, not even the office of the president,” she added.

“And I am happy that this time around, even the investigative wings have said ‘don’t waste our time if you have nothing better to say.’ If you look at the statistics at ACC, it shows that a lot of reports they get are just rumour mongering. It wastes money for the police to be chasing stories that are not true. Let real corruption be fought.”

Meanwhile, Siliya said President Lungu’s decision to revoke the appointment of Siame as the FIC board chairperson is normal in administration.

“I think in administration, that is normal. If the president feels that a decision was made but maybe it was not in the best interest of the nation…it’s not strange for him to revoke an appointment. He is not the first president nor the last president and it’s not the last time it will happen,” said Siliya.