It has become unbearable to watch peasant farmers pleading with government through its agent, the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), to pay them for the maize they delivered to FRA in the last marketing season, says Caritas Zambia.
‘Who will hear the cry of these people? They have pleaded on how they have been rendered destitutes by government’s refusal to pay them their dues which farmers badly need to pay for their children’s school fees, pay for medication and other livelihood needs. Even worse, their capacity to participate in the just started farming season has clearly been impaired and literally sabotaged by government’s refusal to pay them their money,’ says Caritas director Samuel Mulafulafu.
Mulafufua says ‘All we hear every day when they cry is some government official making the usual false promises of paying them soon! But how soon is soon?’
He said this is a national scandal of which government must be ashamed of. We even hear the most ridiculous explanation that these peasants cannot be paid because their money was spent on the funeral expenses of our late President. If this is really true, why should it be that these poor people were the only ones made to sacrifice their income for this national need?’
‘We never heard of any of our highly paid public officials foregoing their salaries or numerous cost supping trips abroad for the same cause. Why should only poor and indigent people be made to sacrifice this way? The excuse of government not having money has become stale; all these huge expenditures the country has had such as the Jubilee celebrations and the ongoing processes towards the Presidential election should never be at the expense of our poorest in society while the well do decision makers and top level burocracts are not willing to share an iota of the sacrifice. This is total shame and we appeal for moral conscience from government to wipe away the tears of the farmers.
‘In the past two months, we have seen political discourse at its worst in Zambia. A good number of those involved are public officials(government ministers) paid from public finances and yet they have spent 110% of their time on nauseating partisan fights and engagements at the expense of public service. Yet we have not heard that their salaries will be withheld or even reduced because they have neglected what the public pays them for?Caritas Zambia demands that all the unpaid farmers be paid immediately for they have suffered enough and the reasons that are being given for not paying them are totally irrational.
‘It is money they have toiled for and government should not think they will be doing them a fovour by paying them what is theirs. We appeal to all farmers unions to use their leverage to compel government to stop this injustice otherwise they will cease to be relevant to the farmers, especially subsistence and small scale farmers.’
Executive Director, Caritas Zambia