Former president of the National Union of Commercial and Industrial Workers Robert Munsanje has charged that Agriculture Minister Michael Katambo lied to Parliament when he said Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) cannot produce the required amount of fertilizer because it has old machinery.

Munsanje told News Diggers in a walk-in interview that the Ministry had been giving business of supplying fertilizer to their friends who then go back to ask NCZ to produce on their behalf.

He said he was aware of the dirt happening at the Ministry of Agriculture but that the Kafue community would not allow that to continue.

“As a community and as NCZ workers as well as retirees, we are not happy with the statement by Honourable Katambo to say that NCZ is too old to produce the required quantities of fertilizer in this country. That is a very big lie made by the minister in charge of agriculture. This man has never ever stepped a foot at the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia. What type of a father is he? If you see all the past years, we have produced the requirement for the nation. The machinery at NCZ is intact and they have been upgraded, and we produce 1,200 metric tons of D-compound fertilizer on a daily basis. And therefore, for someone just to stand up after being asked a question and say that that plant has rotten machinery is a blue lie,” Munsanje said.

He said NCZ still had the capacity to produce the required fertilizer for the entire country and even for the whole of Southern Africa.

“We challenge him as a community that let him come to NCZ and see what is happening. We were given a drop in an ocean of 15,000 metric tons when all the time we have been producing the whole requirement for the nation. End of September is when we were given this so-called contract and we started producing. Right now, we are over 10,000 metric tons and then he sent his officers to grab the 5,000 metric tons from NCZ. So, the minister does not mean well for NCZ,” Munsanje charged.

Munsanje further charged that the ministry had been giving contracts to supply fertilizer to its friends.

“And as a community and as workers as well as retirees, we are not going to sit idle and see someone wanting to sabotage a parastatal company. We are very much aware of the dirt that is happening at the Ministry of Agriculture. They are giving their friends business to supply fertilizer and in return, their friends are coming back to us that we produce on their behalf and from there, they supply to government. We are saying that it is uncalled for, for him to have said these words. He better retract because we know that the Ministry of Agriculture is corrupt. And anytime from now, the community is going to rise over this matter. The community, the retirees, and indeed the workers are not happy with what is happening. Eight months down the line, the workers have not been paid. We are owed money. As a line ministry, he is supposed to be concerned. If he was a concerned minister, he was going to come to NCZ but he has never stepped a foot there,” he said.

And Munsanje said Katambo was a failed project in the agriculture sector, appealing that President Edgar Lungu should relieve him of his duties.

“All we require at NCZ is a contract and down payment. Then we can manufacture the required amount of fertilizer for the country and not only that, we can, in fact, be able to produce fertilizer for the entire Southern Africa. We can do it but because of selfish interest of the people in government, that is why things are happening in this manner. And I want to make a very special appeal to the President that NCZ was made in order to produce fertilizer for the nation. And I appeal to him that Michael Katambo is a failed project and it’s better he is removed with immediate effect from that ministry. As a community, we are going to rise to this occasion. We are not just going to sit down, no. Kafue is NCZ and NCZ is Kafue and without NCZ, it means that the economy of Kafue is dead. We don’t want them to sabotage that company the way they did to Kafue textiles of Zambia,” said Munsanje.