Vice-President Inonge Wina has bemoaned the continued ferrying of political party cadres for rallies without proper care, citing supporters of a ‘named party’ whose members are currently marooned in Kitwe after a mammoth rally last weekend.

And Vice-President Wina has urged all members of parliament to stop politicizing government’s food relief distribution exercise because hunger is non-selective.

The Vice-President was responding to a question from Serenje Central MMD member of parliament Maxwell Kabanda, Friday, who wanted to know whether the presence of some stranded political party supporters at bus stations would not cause a cholera outbreak on the Copperbelt.

Kabanda’s remarks come in the wake of the UPND and National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) mammoth rallies held in Kitwe last weekend.

“Mr Speaker, it is extremely unfortunate that people had to be ferried from other provinces and districts to beef up support for a political meeting or for a certain political party. I was in Kitwe yesterday, Mr Speaker, and I was informed that some of the people that had been transported to that rally have been marooned! So, Mr Speaker, the supporters that came from these provinces and are still in Kitwe, particularly…at the bus stations are the ones who, Mr Speaker, these are the people who may cause cholera in the area! Mr Speaker, I only wish to appeal to our leaders, especially members of parliament, to have a heart for the people. We should not use our people for political expediency! We need to ensure that when we invite them for meetings or to functions, we take care of them, and Mr Speaker, I hope that by end of this day, all the people who attended that rally would have gone back,” Vice-President Wina said.

And Kapiri Mposhi UPND member of parliament Stanley Kakubo asked the Vice-President to explain why farmers in UPND-headed constituencies were stuck under the e-voucher system, which had continued to endure technicalities, while the PF-led areas were covered under the smooth-running Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) programme.

“Madam Vice-President, I have with me where I am basing my question, a list of the distribution of FISP versus e-voucher in provinces and districts, and I particularly noticed that in Central Province constituencies that are held by the UPND have been shelved under the e-voucher where funding has a trend line where funds have not trickled down to agro dealers and in constituencies that are held by the Patriotic Front, such as Kabwe, Ngabwe, Luano and so forth are on the traditional FISP…and in addition to that, the allocations have tripled in terms of per metric tonne of both D Compound and Urea. Is our government strategically trying to marginalize constituencies like Kapiri where we have a lot of farmers, and they have suffered over the years and your government is deliberately targeting constituencies like mine, if you could make a comment I would appreciate,” demanded Kakubo.

But in response, Vice-President Wina stressed that food distribution should not be politicized and insisted that Kakubo’s allegation needed to be substantiated by facts that must be presented in Parliament.

“Mr Speaker this is a very serious allegation that requires a very thorough explanation and in this vain we will ask the Minster of Agriculture (Michael Katambo) to come and inform the nation through a ministerial statement on what the technocrats are advising to implement the agricultural programme in the country. But to allege that government is discriminating against UPND-held constituencies in the allocation of agricultural inputs, I think it’s a very serious statement that should be substantiated by the member of parliament who has brought up this issue. Let us not politicize even food, Mr Speaker, the honorable member was making an allegation, but if that allegation can be backed by facts, the information should be laid on the table of the House. I thank you,” she replied.

And in a similar question, Luena UPND member of parliament David Kundoti alleged that relief food is being distributed by PF cadres, thereby disadvantaging UPND supporters.

Kundoti asked if the PF government had a “silent policy” to marginalize Zambians who were in the opposition.

In her response, Vice-President Wina dismissed the claims, saying relief food distribution was done by the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) relief committees, which had membership from various stakeholders.

“Mr Speaker, I cannot see how the government of PF can have a ‘silent policy’ on relief food! Hunger, Mr Speaker, does not choose whether one is PF or UPND or another party and we ensure that, DMMU rather ensures that the relief food is distributed equally. For example, the DMMU relief committees at the district-level are made up of various individuals from many stakeholder organizations, there is the Church. The Church is represented in the Committee, some NGOs are represented in the Committee, the office is the DC through the District Agricultural Officer (DACO), who is a civil servant, is represented in the Committee and the chiefs are represented in the Committee. So, I cannot see how all these people can be of…when we know very well that the choosing of the Committee members are done at the district-level by the local communities themselves. So, there is no way that this Committees can be accused of being partisan,” Vice-President Wina argued.

Meanwhile, she noted that that the World Food Programme (WFP) would soon begin supporting the DMMU by distributing extra protein content food to communities that were receiving relief food.

This was after a question by Gweembe UPND member of parliament Attractor Chisangano on whether government intended to start the distribution of other food apart from mealie meal in the hunger-stricken areas, especially for children under 5 to prevent malnutrition.

“Mr Speaker, DMMU has concluded some discussions with the World Food Programme and UNICEF and out of these discussions, there is an agreement that WFP will support DMMU by distributing extra protein content food to communities that are receiving relief food, such as kapenta (dried sardines) and soya pieces/chunks and other items that have been identified in the promotion of nutrition, especially among the children in the country and also through the school feeding programme in districts where the school feeding programme is being implemented,” said Vice-President Wina.