By Lambwe Kachali
Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) leader Charles Milupi has warned the government against making the country a breeding ground for drug trafficking cartels and syndicates.
And Milupi says should marijuana be legalised, government should equally legalise prostitution.
Cabinet in its sitting this month approved the legalisation of marijuana, which cultivation, procession and exportation would ostensibly, be for economic and medicinal purposes.
But Milupi argued that government was hoodwinking the Zambian population into believing that the sole purpose for legalising marijuana was for economic purposes because there are so many precious minerals in the country which proceeds have not benefited ordinary Zambians.
He told Daily Revelation that President Edgar Lungu’s government was desperate for money to revive a potentially ‘dead’ economy.
He warned President Lungu against taking desperate measures which consequences he would not handle.
“This government’s desperation comes out of mismanagement and diminishing of the economy. As the opposition we have been talking about this. That’s why you see civil servants are not being paid; students are not getting their meal allowances. Because of this sense of desperation, it appears government is looking for all sorts of income and one of the last resorts they have is the growing of marijuana,” he said.
Milupi questioned government’s claim that Zambia was a Christian nation, when its actions were contrary to the Biblical values.
“We are trading the values, but you see what values do we have? Even though these (values) are enshrined in our constitution: is corruption our values; is discrimination on tribal lines part of our values?; Is beating people on the road because you hold high position at State House party of our values? So even when we have values, there is no mechanism to enforce those values. We have a police force that is compromised politically and so on. Now, to add on to that, we who have high moral values are the ones saying we want to start growing marijuana. To me it’s a desperate move because I look at the consequences. Are we not supposed to be a Christian country? What are we going to do with marijuana that is grown? What is going to happen to those that consume it? If you are growing marijuana at your farm, and you smoke it, are you committing an offence?” he asked.
Milupi said President Lungu has failed to define the direction Zambia was going.
He advised the President to thoughtfully scrutinise decisions he was making with his friends in Cabinet as such decisions have the potential to run down the country.
“All sectors of the economy are not producing the way they should be producing. Th decision to grow marijuana must be carefully thought out,” he warned.
He therefore cautioned President Lungu against turning Zambia into a breeding ground for drug cartels and syndicates.
“ If we are not careful, in no time at all, we will be like those countries that are hunted down with huge drug cartels like they have in Afghanistan, (and) in Mexico. This is what we have opened ourselves to. No question about that! I do not really believe that we have the ability to enforce this correctly. If you look 10 years ago, there was no issue of mukula. But now, there are big people in PF dealing in mukula trade. So even this growing of marijuana, even if we define where the market is, who are the people going to be involved (in growing marijuana). And the money that will be coming from marijuana, where is it going to go?” Milupi wondered.
He said currently the country was producing huge quantities of precious minerals such as emeralds which proceeds were not benefiting ordinary Zambians.
Milupi said what is happening in the emerald and mukula sectors will happen in the marijuana sector where only a few government leaders and their associates benefit.
“You know Zambia is one of the biggest Emerald producing countries in the world. We have been trading like US $3 million dollars (annually) but how much money is going into our budget from emerald mining? nothing!
So, it stems from our inability to have fiscal discipline; to be able to think so that we are able to benefit from the resources that are in this country. We are not benefiting from Copper, we are not benefiting from emeralds, agriculture is not producing the way it should be producing. Now are we really saying that marijuana is what is going to make us prosper?,” he asked.
And Milupi further advised the government that since marijuana was in the process of legalisation, it was imperative to also consider legalising prostitution because it equally has an already flourishing market both for local and international tourists.
He noted that there was no way the government can fail to open one viable sector and accept the other in the name of ‘Christian’ values when they are both immoral.
“Then let us go into prostitution; because there is a market in prostitution too, if all we are looking for is money!” said Milupi. “National values are important but they must be enforced by the morality of the nation by making sure that we live according to what the constitution is saying. Because once we start growing it (marijuana), there is no end to it.”