CLEARLY, MR HICHILEMA HAS FAILED TO DEFINE THE PURPOSE OF HIS GOVT
….He appears to be in control, but no one knows where he is heading – Dr Fred M’membe
Lusaka…. Wednesday November 16, 2022 (Smart Eagles)
Socialist Party (SP) President Dr Fred M’membe has said it is very clear that Mr Hakainde Hichilema and his UPND government have failed to deliver fertiliser to farmers under FISP before the on-set of the rains.
Dr M’membe complained that the failure comes after all the promises to the poor people that fertilizer was on the way.
The opposition leader said Agriculture is the major source of livelihood for the majority of Zambians.
He said this when he addressed the media today.
“This is of great concern to us, the Socialist Party, as Agriculture is the major source of livelihood for the majority of our people – 54.8% of our workforce is deployed in agriculture,” he said.
“The nation may wish to know, that On September 7, 2022, agriculture minister Mtolo Phiri assured the nation that fertiliser distribution will start at the beginning of October. But by the end of October distribution had not started in earnest.”
Dr M’membe recalled that the Head of State, as he addressed a campaign rally for the November 4th this year during the Mkushi council chairperson by-election, announced that fertiliser was on the way.
The opposition leader said the President emphasised that reports being circulated that there was no fertiliser in Mkushi were untrue because according to him, trucks of fertiliser were already on the way.
“Mr Hichilema further threatened to dismiss camp officers whom he accused of trying to mislead the farmers about fertiliser not being available or being delayed,” he said.
“Despite growing cries from our poor people about delays in fertiliser distribution, we didn’t want to rush and start commenting on this issue, haranguing Mr Hichilema and his UPND government. This is not an issue for lurid, sensational attacks on Mr Hichilema and his UPND government. It’s too serious an issue to play political njuka or insolo.”
Dr M’membe said socialists are patriots and they wish to see the country succeed, “our people live better – with or without us in power.”
He said that Socialists will never gloat over serious national issues, as President Hichilema and the UPND did when others were in government and they were in opposition.
“We wish to see the lives of our people improve, the economy grow and gain strength. We do not look to defeat Mr Hichilema and the UPND in 2026 on the back of agriculture collapse. There will be sufficient grounds without that to argue for their removal,” he said.
“Today, Mr Hichilema and UPND may look very strong and confident. But very big problems lie ahead. Despite the excessive show of confidence, Mr Hichilema and his league don’t seem to know where they are headed and that is very dangerous. He appears to be in control, but no one knows where he is heading. He has not only failed to deliver fertilisers to our poor farmers but also medicines in our clinics and hospitals to our sick citizens. Today, even simple pain killers such as panadol is scarce. Our agriculture and health services are in shambles.”
Dr M’membe accused President Hichilema of failing to define the purpose of his government.
He warned that the Head of State will in the end be judged not on what he says, but on what he does.
The opposition leader said the UPND members are too focused on becoming very rich.
“…being the richest Zambians is all that matters to them. They have no regard for the majority of our people, who are poor. This government, deliberately flouted the tender procedures in order to facilitate for direct bidding or single sourcing of fertilizer by their friends and business partners. They cancelled the open tenders at the end of August, creating a tender crisis and ‘secretly’ awarded tenders thereafter to their friends and business partners,” he said.
“The fertilizer prices have jumped from K650 last year, to k1,200 per 50kg bag this year, almost a 100% increment against their promise of reducing fertilizer prices to K250 per bag. The consequences of this don’t require much discussion. If decisions were made in good time and tenders were awarded accordingly, the procurement of Urea may not have
been as problematic as that of securing D Compound. This required the government to award FISP tenders no later than June.”
Dr M’membe said there is too much empty talking by Preident Hichilema and his league for one to really know where they stand and what they are up to.
He said there has been endless, and sometimes contradictory statements on FISP by government officials which introduced some uncertainty in the fertiliser business adding that this has not helped to instill confidence in the business community.
The SP president however stressed the need for transparency and fairness.
“For instance, there was no certainty on whether government was going to engage in business with existing fertiliser companies or not. The intentions of this government wasn’t officially communicated to the suppliers. As a result of this, today those with fertiliser tenders have no stock, while we have fertiliser suppliers with stocks in their warehouses who haven’t been awarded tenders. What should they do with these stocks?”
“There’s need for transparency and fairness. FISP financing arrangements and decisions by government should be availed to would be suppliers so that all can plan and suppliers can bring in the fertiliser in good time. Suppliers should be informed well in advance whether the bids will be open or closed tenders as the two have implications on the entire procurement process and the time it would take. More so for parastatal suppliers like NCZ who need to abide by the ZPPA processes which take more time,” he said.
Dr M’membe emphasised on the need to broaden the fertiliser options beyond the use of Urea as a Top Dresser and D Compound as the Basal Dresser.
“These are not the only good options available. There are other fertilisers that can be used as efficiently and effectively as these or even better,” he said.