KAUMBWE PF member of parliament Aaron Mwanza says the hike in fuel prices has not really affected people in rural areas because very few people depend on vehicles for transportation.
In an interview, Mwanza said the high cost of living in rural constituencies was not as bad as it was in urban areas, adding that their biggest complaint was delayed farming inputs.
“Of course just like any other parts of the country, in the rural areas, probably, the effects to me it seems are not as much as town dwellers talk about it. You know, in the rural areas, very few people depend on these vehicles for transport and so on. They go to buy items in informal markets than established ones. I think we had one or two meetings and somebody asked me about the price of fuel being so high and that the cost of living was high. I threw it back to them to ask how they felt,” he said.
“It is really not as bad as urban areas. They castigate UPND on agriculture inputs because that is their lifeline. So they have not gotten all the kinds of inputs like fertiliser. So the big problem is basically on the fertiliser. For the cost of living, they just hear from people and their children from the cities that they are no longer sending them money because of the cost of living is very high. So it is not as bad.”
Meanwhile, Mwanza said Constituency Development Fund guidelines were not clear, even to controlling officers
“It is good that they have released the CDF. On implementation, there are a lot of hurdles. The CDF guidelines are not clear even to the controlling officers themselves. When you ask about critical issues, for example on the youth and women empowerment, the loan facility is not clear. They have not yet appointed a financial institution to control the loans and yet there are announcements everywhere for people to make applications. So they have been made to do a lot of paperwork but they do not expect any results. In my rural constituency, the problem is mainly centered on agriculture inputs. So the beneficiaries draw their attention to agriculture inputs,” said Mwanza.
“Agriculture inputs such as urea in my constituency were never collected. When I go for CDF sensitisation meetings, I am bombarded with these questions about urea not being delivered. So how do we trust this programme that you are asking us to sign up for? And I have no answers because according to the Minister of Agriculture, he announced that the supplier of urea completed his mission. The implementation is very difficult in the sense that we are not sure when the second quarter will be disbursed to constituencies. According to the guidelines, we must utilise the first quarter and give returns which will satisfy the Ministry of Local Government and then release the second quarter.”