By Christopher Miti

AGRICULTURE minister Reuben Mtolo says there is no money in circulation because people who stole are hiding the money.
“If you notice, we have challenges with money. Where is the money? Those who were stealing the money in the past are hiding money. They fear that they could be arrested and because of the high fuel prices, the money is scarce,” he said
Mtolo, who is also Chipata Central member of parliament, says he will not hesitate to report people who are handling Constituency Development Fund to police if they engage in corruption.

Featuring on Breeze FM on Saturday night, Mtolo said CDF is meant to help people and should not be tampered with.
“For me as MP, I have grown up here. My businesses are here. I want Chipata to be strong. I was very categorical today during the CDF meeting that if I am going to hear that there is corruption in the handling of the CDF, I will not hesitate to drag the people involved to police. This man, Mr Daka (CDF chairperson) is my friend but if he is going to engage in corruption, I will have him arrested. I will not hesitate and I have continuously said this,” he said.
Mtolo said in 2011 when he was MP, he made one person arrested.

“In 2011, I said the same and people thought I was joking. One man is still serving at Namuseche. He stole something at Saturday Market and that is how it will be. The other thing is that, I am washing my hands here, a person who would want to go that route in the government of President Hakainde Hichilema, I stay with him every day in Lusaka, he is on his own or her own,” he warned. “That man [Hichilema] hates corruption. that man is committed to developing the country and this money which has come does not belong to an individual but for development through central government. Anyone who will steal CDF money will be arrested and will have nowhere to appeal.”

Mtolo said the warning does not only go to the CDF committee but to council officers and suppliers.
“This is a very strong warning to my friends in the CDF [committee], the council officials and the suppliers, the owners of shops, hardware owners, that if you are going to get yourself involved in inflating prices you will be in trouble,” he said.
And in emphasizing the need for the CDF committee to purchase locally made desks, Mtolo said the CDF should circulate within the constituency.

“If the CDF chairperson wants to buy school desks, he is not allowed to buy desks that are made from Indonesia. The desks should be made by residents of Chipata who have made them in Chipata for use in Chipata. These desks should not be bought from anywhere other than Chipata. This money is meant for Chipata. We want it to circulate in Chipata Central,” he explained. “If you notice, we have challenges with money. Where is the money? Those who were stealing the money in the past are hiding money. They fear that they could be arrested and because of the high fuel prices, the money is scarce.”
Mtolo said the government is pumping money into the system through the Constituency Development Fund.
He urged Zambians to develop an attitude of voicing out whenever things are not alright.

Mtolo said when public money is being abused people should take it upon themselves to report.
“The new thinking is that when public money is abused, you cannot leave it to me to report or follow up but every citizen should make a follow up and report to the relevant authorities. If your money is being abused, don’t wait for Mtolo to report to Anti-Corruption [Commission] or to report to police,” he urged. “You all have a right. This is your money. This is the money which comes from taxes. President Hakainde Hichilema didn’t bring a bag of money. It is your money. President Hakainde is just saying instead of planning from Lusaka, let the money be planned in the constituencies. Let us develop an attitude in Zambia where if things are not going well, we should be talking.”

And Mtolo said he wants to be a minister of development in agriculture and not minister of fertiliser only.
“I don’t want that after five years, when I look back at what I did, I should just be talking about fertiliser. I want to be Minister of Agriculture in totality. I want to be minister who will develop farm blocks. I want to be a minister who would have promoted irrigation. I want to improve on extension and I also want to be Minister of Agriculture who will bring processing,” said Mtolo.


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