Africa-Press – Zambia. THERE has been a well-orchestrated ripping of government through the supply of low quality and underweight bags of fertilisers which must be nipped into the bud, says George Mpombo.
Mpombo says “Tamanga or flyby night companies must not be entertained as part of the process to phase out costly drain pipes. The Mast lead story of Monday, January 10, revealed that part of the fertiliser supplied to the government by various sources was of low quality and underweight.
Government sources revealed that upon being subjected to tests by the Zambia Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI), part of the consignment was found to be of low quality.
“These fertilisers were meant for various parts of the country, but the most affected was that going to Southern Province. In fact, even the quantities were discovered to be underweight. So the government asked these suppliers to replace the fertilisers,” the sources told The Mast.
But Mpombo, a former defense minister under the Levy Mwanawasa MMD administration, said the matter needed to be thoroughly investigated in order to bring the crooks to book.
“There has been a well-orchestrated syndicate ripping off the government through supplying low quality and underweight bags of fertilizers. The scum must be nipped in the bud before government loses huge sums of money,” he said.
Mpombo, who once served as Kafulafuta member of parliament, noted that: “these criminal activities are a serious threat to national food security as crop yield is highly compromised.”
He added that the “unsuspecting peasant farmer despite his hard work is robbed of the fruits of his labour”. Mpombo advised the UPND government to ensure specifications of the fertilizers are confirmed before receipt and distribution.
“There is need to float the tender process openly so that transparency and accountability is attained to ensure credible suppliers with strong track record are picked,” he said.
He added that the supplier must have the capacity and integrity to rectify any shortcomings in the supply chain. “Tamanga (run) or flyby the night companies must not be entertained as part of the process to phase out costly drain pipes,” said Mpombo.
According to the Mast, when contacted, agriculture minister Reuben Mtolo Phiri confirmed the fact the fertiliser supplied was of low quality and underweight that and said the government had since informed the suppliers and asked them to replace the commodity.
“No one has refused. How can they refuse because we did the test, isn’t it? So, all we’re doing is we sample here and there and when we find that the fertiliser is not good enough, we ask them to replace it. Yea, we have gotten those reports and our men are on it.
“Yes, we’ve gotten those reports. I can confirm and our men are on it,” said Mtolo.
“…Yes, but you know what, let me say something to you. Some of these stories might look very sensational but the effects they have on the economy can be very, very devastating.
“So, be very careful the way you write this story. We are on top of things. Every corner where we are receiving a problem, we are making sure that the fertiliser is being replaced. Depending on how you write it, it can become a very difficult situation. Even farmers who have received good fertiliser will start saying we have bad fertiliser.
“This is where responsibility and patriotism could come in. Whoever is giving you this information, be very, very careful because we could end up into a lot of complicated situations.
“This is what I have to say to you, The Mast. It’s a very sensational story for you. But depending on what you write you could create a very, very unnecessary problem. You’re calling me for the second time, it means you are very pleased with what you’re doing. And I can just caution you that be very careful. Be extremely careful.
“The reason I’m saying that, is this; you could be given this information by a group of people who think they themselves could not get involved. Now, we are busy checking the stock, alright! We’re busy checking the stock to make sure everywhere we have got good quality fertiliser being given to our people.” SOURCE: The Mast