MMD President Dr. Nevers Sekwila Mumba has said that his recent campaign trip to the Eastern province to drum up support for the party’s candidates in the Kasenengwa and Vubwi by-elections slated for 11th September, 2014 was a great eye-opener and confirmed the MMD’s long held assertion that the PF Government has no capacity to manage the agricultural sector and went into government in 2011 with no clear blueprint on how they were going to handle it.
Dr. Mumba says he agrees 100% with Honourable Alexander Chikwanda, Minister of Finance that the underutilization – for two years – of a US$115 million facility from the World Bank to fund irrigation projects is a national embarrassment and will put the country in an awkward position at the forthcoming Spring Meeting of the World Bank in Washington next week. It would also be useful for the Minister to categorize how the US$11 million has been applied.
He further said he totally agrees with the Minister that the PF Government lacks capacity to generate bankable agricultural projects and this is in spite of having 2 Permanent Secretaries and 2 Deputy Ministers in the ministry. He said the main reason for this could be that upon getting into power in 2011, the PF hurriedly fired all experienced senior civil servants on the pretext that that the majority were MMD sympathizers and instead employed a bloated civil service of mostly inexperienced PF cadres and it is now not a surprise that the country is experiencing these difficulties.
“In Eastern Province, the situation for the farmers is both desperate and pathetic. We found that our farmers are completely stranded as the Food Reserve Agency seems to be experiencing serious challenges in the collection of agricultural produce and have at this stage only managed to collect about one quarter of what has been harvested. There is no telling how long FRA will take to finish collection and paying the farmers, meaning the farmers have now been left at the mercy of briefcase buyers who are buying the produce at less than the stipulated floor prices. The unfortunate effect of all this is that farmers will face difficulties to plan in time for the coming season” said Dr. Mumba.
“The people of Zambia know the MMD’s successful agricultural record and that one of our success factors was the appointment of experienced and capable people such as Dr. Eustarckio Kazonga to manage the sector over a sustained period. But in contrast, the 3 short years of PF rule has seen one Minister of Agriculture after another and lack of a clear and sustainable agricultural policy. This alone reveals that the PF Government’s style of handling a serious sector such as Agriculture, which has a direct impact on the performance of the national economy, is one of ‘trial and error’” said the MMD President.