Agriculture in Zambia will soon experience the long, but inevitable chain effect of corruption. The disappearance of $4,3 million from the Social Cash Transfer Programme came as a shock to the entire country and the ripple effect is already in motion. While the investigation is going on, aid from the International Monetary Fund as well as countries like Britain, Sweden, Ireland and Finland is suspended. Britain has a zero-tolerance approach to fraud and is closely following the progress of the investigations.
This shortage of money will affect education, health care, nutrition and will certainly reduce the financial aid to the poorest of the poor. Smallholder and subsistence farmers will also feel the pinch. Government is already struggling to fulfill their financial responsibilities towards them. The ZNFU is still involved in an ongoing battle with government to release the allocated FISP funds to farmers and suppliers. The outstanding money already has a dire effect on agricultural suppliers who are part of FISP. The big question is when the effect of this scandal will hit our farmers who experience a constant challenge to support their families.
As a queasy ad-on, the Zambian economy is going through a very tough patch and observers already express concern over government debt levels. President Lungu announced that he dismissed Minister of Community Development, Emerine Kabanshi, who was responsible for the Social Payments Programme. Apparently, expensive vehicles were bought with the funds.
One can only hope this will set a chain of events in motion until our smallholder farmers and agro-suppliers receive their desperately needed cash to carry on farming.
Du Preez de Villiers – email@example.com
Read ProAgri Zambia 033 here: ProAgri Zambia Issue 033