About 500 irate farmers who paid for agricultural inputs to the Disabled Multipurpose Association of Zambia (DMAZ) on Monday stgormed the associations offices in Kabwe and roughed up seven workers.
The irate farmers picked and handed the DMAZ officers to police while demanding for their money.
The farmers alleged that they paid K350, 000 to DMAZ for inputs but were not given the commodities and accused the association of having stolen from the already poor and vulnerable people.
Confusions started at DMAZ offices at Mukobeko where the farmersemanded for their refunds which they paid as down payment some as far back as September last year.
The farmers, who during the process managed to pick one DMAZ worker from Mukobeko, marched about 5 km to the office of the Provincial Permanent Secretary.
On the way they picked other DMAZ workers who they handed over to police at the provincial administration.
They also grabbed keys to the DMAZ utility vehicle and also locked up the shed where DMAZ keeps its agricultural inputs which they said was meant for clients.
Before they could be addressed by the Permanent Secretary, Edwin Zumbunu, the farmers shouted on top of their voices as they marched, causing pandemonium at the provincial government offices where some officers scampered from their offices in all directions.
Speaking on behalf of others when Mr. Zumbunu appeared to addresthem, Nkonga Mabengwa of Kapiri Mposhi said farmers had now lost their patience and accused DMAZ of being a bogus association that was benon swindling farmers of their little resources.
Mr Mabengwa said several farmers, from most of the farming areas in Central Province paid K350, 000 each to DMAZ as down payment for the 2011/12 farming season but to their disappointment, the association did not honour its promise.
He charged that the affected farmers did not even cultivate this season because they did not receive the inputs from the association which he further described as a corridor organization formed just to
allegedly steal from already poor people.
The affected farmers who included women, some old, complained that they had suffered a lot because they are likely to starve this year as they would not have food for themselves and their families.
Some complained that farming was the sole source of livelihood and income.
Asked for a comment, DMAZ Human Resource Officer, Mary Sakala explained that her association had the fertilizer for its clients but the commodities were in Lusaka. Ms. Sakala explained that the association wanted each client to pay
K100, 000 for transportation of one pack of 4 basal and 4 top dressing fertilizers to Kabwe. But the farmers explained that the K100, 000 DMAZ was demanding was uncalled for because transportation costs were already included in the K350, 000 down payments.
Meanwhile, Mr Zumbunu described the situation as unfortunate and appealed to the irate farmers to immediately provide his office with all the details including receipts of payments so that his office
could effectively see how it could help solve the matter. Mr Zumbunu said his office was aware that 2,189 individual farmers in the province each paid K350, 000 to DMAZ for the purpose of getting
the farming inputs but it was unfortunate that the association to date has not fulfilled its promise.
He however said he was also aware that DMAZ had given out inputs to some of its clients adding that the farmers should not have marched to his office but should have taken their complaints to police.
Mr Zumbunu nevertheless promised the farmers that his office will
work with police to ensure that the matter is investigated and the culprits are dealt with by the law.
He told the farmers that the seven DMAZ workers would be detained b police so that they can help with the investigations.