FOR more than 20 years after Independence, President Robert Mugabe gave with a shovel to Zambians and he is now receiving a spoonful of assistance. Siamese twins my foot!
In the past three decades Zambia and Zimbabwe have never both enjoyed economic prosperity at the same time and hence many expected that, in the African spirit of neighborliness, the two would equally reciprocate by assisting each other during times of need.
The attitude of Zambia’s post Kenneth Kaunda presidency towards Zimbabwe has never shared our affliction. The major commodity traded by these two former British colonies since black majority rule is maize. Millions of tones of maize were exported to Zambia from Zimbabwe up to about 2003. In fact, Zimbabwe over exported and ran down her Strategic Grain Reserve in early 2000s to help arrest the biting food shortage prevalent in Zambia at that time.
Zimbabwe has been battling to attain above national requirement maize harvest since 2002, leaving the country with no choice but to get maize from Zambia, which was, ironically at that time, enjoying bumper harvest. Zambia has been demanding upfront cash payment and when these payments are made, there have been and still react very painfully slow in preparing the maize stocks for dispatch.
The Food Reserve Agency Zambia (FRAZ), has the habit of holding hundreds of Grain Marketing Board hired trucks stranded at the collection points for several days before loading. The maize, in many cases, is fumigated on the supposed date of collection, delaying the loading for a period of more than 2 weeks as the chemicals subside. The loading is manual and very time consuming.
In 2006, in an attempt to quicken the loading process, GMB had to send over a hundred personnel to load the maize but the Zambian Immigration Department changed its mind a few hours later and ordered the whole team back to Zimbabwe before they even started work.
It must noted that at all material times, Zambia bought maize from Zimbabwe on various terms other than cash. In fact, as late as May 2013, Zambia still owed Zimbabwe for maize sold in 2002. We now hear that Michael Sata Administration is demanding cash upfront. Is this how Siamese twins treat each other?
One must be pardoned for trying hard not to vomit and frown when the Zambian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Ndiyoyi Mutiti, appeared on national television and said: “The decision was made long ago that Zambia is going to give Zimbabwe maize and the decision was made at the highest level so there is no backtracking. Usually when technocrats work on the modalities of implementing a decision, sometimes they run into bottlenecks and these are the bottlenecks that both Zambia and Zimbabwe are committed to ironing out. So as President [Michael] Sata said, he does not want the people of Zimbabwe to starve in as much as he does not want the people of Zambia to starve