Debates- Wednesday, 28th July, 2010

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Wednesday, 28th July, 2010

The House met at 1430 hours







602. Mr Mwango (Kanchibiya) asked the Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives:

(a)    how much money was owed to Food Reserve Agency (FRA) in fertiliser and seed loans as of December, 2009;

(b)    how many people owed FRA as of December, 2009;

(c)    whether the Government had continued giving loans in the form of fertiliser and seed to farmers; and

(d)    what had caused the delay in recovering the money.

The Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives (Mr Mbewe): Madam Speaker, as of December, 2009, the FRA was owed K107,065,429,395.38 …

Hon. Opposition Members: What is that, Tom and Jerry?

Mr Mbewe: Take it easy. I am still talking.


Madam Deputy Speaker: Order!

Mr Mbewe: … in fertiliser and seed loans.

As of December, 2009, 1,890 individuals and 2,849 co-operatives owed the FRA money. The Government has stopped giving loans in the form of fertiliser and seed to farmers. 

Madam Speaker, the main reason that has caused the delay in recovering the money owed to the FRA is that most of the co-operatives that were given loans did not provide any collateral, thereby, making it difficult for the FRA to recover this money. However, some co-operatives and individuals who provided collateral in order to access the FRA loans, currently, have their cases pending in court.

Madam Speaker, I thank you.

Mr Lubinda: Tom and Jerry.

Mr Mwango: Madam Speaker, I would like to know how much effort the Government is putting in to recover this money from those who never provided any collateral to the FRA.

Mr Mbewe: Madam Speaker, the Government is trying very hard to collect these monies from all those owing the FRA, including those who never presented collateral. As I am speaking, some cases are in court and the properties of those owing have been seized. Very shortly, the FRA will be carrying out a public tender procedure so that people can buy the seized property.

I thank you, Madam.

Mr D. Mwila (Chipili): Madam Speaker, is it possible for the hon. Minister to lay on the Table of the House the list of all those people or institutions that are owing the FRA because K107 billion is too much money?

Mr Mbewe: Madam Speaker that is almost a new question.

Hon. Opposition Members: Aah!

Mr Mbewe: That is almost a new question.

Mr D. Mwila: Aah, Iwe!

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order!

The hon. Member will speak through the Chair and will not listen to hecklers. 

You may continue, please.

Mr Mbewe: Madam Speaker, that is almost a new question, but we are ready to provide information on request.

I thank you, Madam.

Mr Mwiimbu (Monze Central): Madam Speaker, there is a perception that only those who are not politically correct are being pursued by the FRA. When is the Government going to be transparent in the manner it collects debts owed to the FRA?

Mr Mbewe: Madam Speaker, the Government is very transparent and is pursuing all those owing the FRA.

I thank you, Madam.

Mr Kapeya (Mpika Central): Madam Speaker, is the hon. Minister aware that the FRA, in some districts like Mpika, has run out of grain bags and that this has prevailed for almost three weeks now. If he is aware, what is he doing about it?

Mr Mbewe: Madam Speaker, it is very correct that some districts do not have empty grain bags, at the moment, but arrangements have been put in place to procure seven million empty grain bags for our farmers. However, for the time being, we have put in mitigation measures by allowing farmers to bring their maize to the markets using their own bags which shall be reimbursed as we go.

I thank you, Madam.

Mr Shakafuswa (Katuba): Madam Speaker, through you, is it possible for a list of the people owing over K100 billion to the FRA to be brought to this House so that we know who is delaying to pay up? This money can be used by the FRA to buy crops from farmers in the outlying areas who are unable to sell their crop to the FRA because of its insufficient funds.

Madam Deputy Speaker: That sounds like a question that has already been asked. 

Mr Sichamba (Isoka West): Madam Speaker, I would like to find out how much money the FRA has recovered, so far, from the co-operatives and individuals.

Mr Mbewe: Madam Speaker, so far, the FRA has managed to recover K372,586,337 from fertiliser loan debtors.

I thank you, Madam.

Mr Kambwili (Roan): Madam Speaker, would the hon. Minister confirm that out of these 1,890 individuals, there are two Cabinet Ministers serving in this Government who owe the FRA?

Mr Mbewe: Madam Speaker, I cannot confirm that because I have not seen the list.


Mr Zulu (Bwana Mkubwa): Madam Speaker, who is supposed to buy grain bags? Secondly, at what time of the year should they be bought?

Madam Deputy Speaker: Much as the question that has been asked is appreciated, the questions being asked ...


Madam Deputy Speaker: Order! 

... are follow up questions to the question that is on the Order Paper and it has nothing to do with grain bags.

Dr Machungwa (Luapula): Madam Speaker, the hon. Deputy Minister has stated that the FRA has since stopped giving loans. Does this now mean that the policy has now changed and the agency will not give any loans in the future?

Mr Mbewe: Madam, because of the situation prevailing at the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, the FRA is not giving loans now. However, if necessary, in the future, the issue will be revisited.

Thank you, Madam.

Mr Lubinda (Kabwata): Madam, in arriving at the figure that the hon. Minister gave to this House as the outstanding amount owed to the FRA as at December, 2009, invariably, a long list of people who are owing must have been gone through …


Madam Deputy Speaker: Order!  

The hon. Member may ask his question. 

You may continue, please.

Mr Lubinda: In view of that, Madam, could the hon. Minister indicate whether, on that list, there are also people who owe the FRA as at the end of, 2000 when hon. Ministers and hon. Members of Parliament were given loans by the FRA?

Mr Mbewe: Madam Speaker, I do not know why this question is zeroing around. I have already said that the Government is aware that some individuals and co-operatives owe the FRA. I cannot confirm that I have seen a name of a co-operative or hon. Minister appearing on the list.

Mr Kambwili: Iwe Namugala talipila.

Mr Mbewe: Madam Speaker, I do not have that privileged information.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order! 

The hon. Deputy Minister is responding to the questions raised and there is no need for hon. Members to interject because they claim they have answers. Remember that you are soliciting for answers and, therefore, if you have them, there is no need to continue on this matter.

Hon. Government Member: Hear, hear!

Mr Chimbaka (Bahati): Madam, may I find out from the hon. Minister whether debts owed to the FRA by bad debtors accrue interest.

Mr Mbewe: Madam, yes, they accrue interest.

Thank you, Madam.

Mr Mwenya (Nkana): Madam, simple arithmetic tells me that the total debt was K110 billion that is taking into account the K3 billion, which was paid, and the K107 billion, which is outstanding. Can the hon. Minister confirm whether the amount recovered, K3 billion, was paid by less than three people, taking into account that an hon. Member paid K2 billion after having had his property seized. If that is the case, are we saying that debts are being collected on political lines?

Mr Mbewe: Madam, the FRA does not look at personalities. Therefore, it does not matter whether one is an hon. Cabinet Minister or ...

Mr Kambwili: Question!

Mr Mbewe: ... hon. Member from the Opposition. In its recovery of debt, the FRA follows the laid-down procedures stipulated upon acquisition of the loans. So, if there is an hon. Member of Parliament whose assets were seized, it was not based on politics, but business. 

Thank you, Madam.

Hon. Opposition Member: Question!

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Habeenzu (Chikankata): Madam, my concern is if the hon. Minister does not have the list ...

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order!

 We do not want to listen to your concerns. Ask a follow up question.

You may continue, please.

Mr Habeenzu: Madam, if the hon. Minister does not have the list of debtors, how did he arrive at the figures that he has given the House?

Mr Mbewe: Madam, the question did not request for a list, but figures, which we have provided.

Hon. Opposition Members: Aah!

Mr Mbewe: However, if some people need a list, it can be provided.

Thank you, Madam.

Mrs Musokotwane (Katombola): Madam, can the hon. Minister tell the House when he will bring the list of debtors because it is not privileged information. The House wants to know who owes the FRA from both sides of this House and outside.


Mr Mbewe: Madam, when the Question under discussion was asked, it did not require the list of debtors. It is only now that the hon. Members have asked for it. After consultation, the list will be brought.

I thank you, Madam.

Hon. Opposition Members: Tomorrow.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order! 

Mr Hachipuka (Mbabala): Madam, is there any time bar on these debts because there is a need for one? We have heard this story since 2000. Can this money be recovered forever and ever, amen?

Hon. Government Members: Aah!

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order!

Mr Mbewe: Madam, I have indicated, in my response, that, at the moment, a lot of cases of this nature are in court and a lot of property from those who owe the FRA has been seized. Therefore, I cannot comment.

Thank you, Madam.


603. Mr Chisala (Chilubi) asked the Minister of Finance and National Planning:

(a)    how much money had been released for construction and rehabilitation of the following infrastructure in the Northern Province from the 2009 Budget:

(i)    schools;

(ii)    roads; and

(iii)    hospitals/health centres; and

(b)    how much money had been utilised for the above purpose.

The Deputy Minister of Finance and National Planning (Ms C. M. Kapwepwe): Madam Speaker, I wish to inform the House that, in 2009, the total budget allocation for construction and rehabilitation of schools, roads and hospitals and health centres was K78.832 million. Of the total allocation, K76.53 million was disbursed representing 97.1 per cent of the budget as released. The break down of the expenditure in terms of budget estimates and releases was as follows:

    (i)    Construction and Rehabilitation of Schools

            Ministerial    Total 
        Provincial    Allocation     Allocation
        Allocation    (Head 80)    
        (K’million)    (K’million)        (K’million)

    Budget    2,960.0    32,034.0        34,994.0

    Releases    2,790.0    29,921.0    32,711.0
    % of Releases      94.3     93.4     93.4
    (ii)    Road Construction and Rehabilitation

            Ministerial    Total 
        Provincial    Allocation     Allocation
        Allocation    (Head 21)    
        (K’million)    (K’million)        (K’million)

    Budget    2,000.0    34,500.0    36,500.0

    Releases    2,000.0    34,500.0    36,500.0

    % of Releases    100       100      100

    (iii)    Construction and Rehabilitation of Hospitals/Health Centres

        Provincial    Allocation     Allocation
        Allocation    (Head 46)    
        (K’million)    (K’million)        (K’million)

    Budget    88.4    9,250.0    9,338.4

    Releases    76.5    6,750.0    6,826.5

    % of Releases    86.5      73.0     73.1    

Madam, it should be noted that some budget provisions could not be released in full due to revenue constraints experienced during the same period arising from the global financial crisis.

Madam Speaker, in terms of money utilisation for the above purpose, I wish to report that all released moneys were used for the intended purpose.

I thank you, Madam.


Mr Chisala: Madam Speaker, in 2009, the Government of the Republic of Zambia was sympathetic enough to release K2 billion towards the rehabilitation of the roads in the Northern Province …


Madam Deputy Speaker: Order! 

The Hon. Member speaking may continue.

Mr Chisala: Madam Speaker, each district was supposed to receive K160 million for the rehabilitation of roads under the Road Rehabilitation Unit (RRU). May I know why the roads in Chilubi, Mungwi and Chinsali were not rehabilitated?

Ms C. M. Kapwepwe: Madam Speaker, from my answer, you can see that the Government is committed to infrastructure development in the provinces, as evidenced by the ninety-seven per cent release of budgeted amounts.

As regards the actual implementation, there are a lot of projects on the ground and, therefore, they cannot be undertaken at the same time. I am sure there is a work plan which sets out the priority areas. The Government has demonstrated its commitment by releasing the funds and implementation is ongoing.

I thank you, Madam Speaker.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Shakafuswa: She has not answered the question.




Mr Sejani (Mapatizya): Madam Speaker, I beg to move that this House urges the Government to urgently address the perennial constraints in the agricultural marketing system in order to enhance food security in the country.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Is the Motion seconded?

Dr Scott (Lusaka Central): Yes, Madam Speaker.


Madam Deputy Speaker: Order!

Mr Sejani: Madam Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to move the Motion. 

Madam Speaker, this Motion has provided a platform for hon. Members to exchange ideas on the way forward as regards agricultural marketing in this country. It seeks to tap into the collective wisdom of the hon. Members of this House in finding lasting solutions to the problems faced by our farming community. It is a Motion about the plight of farmers in Zambia. It is about empowering the rural farmers with a view to reducing poverty. It is about rural development, a subject which has eluded successive Governments in this country, be it pre- or post-independence. It is about the future of the agricultural industry in Zambia. 

This Motion highlights the agony a farmer goes through as he goes about marketing his produce. The agony is being enabled to produce and then watch the produce go to waste because of the lack of a market. 

This Motion is extremely important and politically neutral. This means that it is non-partisan.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sejani: Madam Speaker, I wish to state, from the outset, that where there is no market, there is no development.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sejani: There is only waste and stagnation. I want to argue that there is an urgent need to address the bottlenecks and constraints that are marginalising the bulk of our toiling masses in the rural Zambia.

We must, as a matter of urgency, attend to the problems faced by our farming community. They work hard and there is no doubt about that.

Mr D. Mwila: Hear, hear!

Mr Sejani: The bumper harvest we are talking about today is a product of the toiling masses in our rural areas whose lives are not being properly rewarded. I am not discussing the maize bumper harvest in this Motion. I am discussing the bumper harvest of problems that have … 

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!{mospagebreak}

Mr Sejani: … emerged as a result of this bumper harvest of maize. I am discussing the bumper harvest of problems that the farmers face as they go about selling their produce. 

Madam Speaker, the ugly scenario in rural Zambia leads me to ask how well the present marketing arrangements serve our toiling farmers in the rural areas. How well have our present policies on agricultural marketing served the most remote rural farmer in Zambia? 

Initially, the answer to these questions lies in addressing the annual chaos and cries of the farmer every season. There are problems in the agricultural market. 

Madam Speaker, let me argue that there are a number of problems to which we must find answers as a country. The biggest annual problem is the lack of a market for our farmers to sell their produce.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sejani: There is just no market for the farmers to sell their produce. Yet, a market is important if farmers are to sell their produce so that they can earn a little money to be able to buy consumer goods.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order! Can the House pay attention to the business on the Floor. If you do not pay attention, you will raise the points the hon. Member on the Floor is raising after he has finished speaking. Can we have order and pay attention. This is the business of the House. 

The hon. Member may continue.

Mr Sejani: Madam Speaker, I was saying that a market was extremely important for our farmers to be able to sell their produce so that they can earn some money to buy consumer goods and live decent lives in the rural areas. A market is important in order for the farmers to earn some money to take their children to school and hospitals and also buy seed, fertiliser and other farm inputs for subsequent seasons. 

Madam, unless there is a market, there is no way agriculture will be turned into a business in this country. There is, absolutely, no way farmers will be weaned off the Government-sponsored programmes. Two minutes ago, the hon. Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives lamented the issue of weaning off farmers from these programmes. The reason is that, they are not getting any rewards from their toil because there is no market. Until a market is put in place, there is no way we are going to reduce rural poverty. 

Madam Speaker, I am saying that there is no market for the farmers to sell their produce because the only market known to them is that which is provided by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA). This means that in places where the FRA is unable to reach, there is no market. 

Now, this is the biggest bottleneck in the agricultural marketing set up because, in its present form, structure and level of funding, the FRA is hopelessly ill-equipped to handle the massive exercise of marketing crops in this country.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sejani: The FRA does not have a structure and personnel to handle this huge exercise. Historically, we must understand that this organisation was set up to only deal with strategic reserves for the country. Subsequently, I understand that the law was amended to allow it assume the bigger responsibility of handling the marketing aspect. Sadly, when there were changes in the law to give the FRA this responsibility, there were no corresponding changes made to its structure. This agency is too top heavy. In Lusaka, the lowest organ of the FRA is at the provincial level. There is no representation at the district or sub-district level. 

Madam Speaker, everybody knows that agricultural marketing is a rural-based activity, but one wonders what sort of marketing an organisation that ends up at the provincial level will do in the rural areas. One wonders how an organisation with an employment level of 150 members of staff can handle agricultural marketing throughout the country. Compare the 150 staffing level of the FRA to that of the National Agricultural Marketing Board (NAMBOARD), at its height, when it had this responsibility, it had about 7,000 members of staff. However, in this case, there are only 150. I am putting it across to this Government that, in its present structure, the FRA is ill-suited to handle agricultural marketing in this country. 

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sejani: How can an agency which only manages to open five or six satellite depots per district reach our farmers? This means that, perhaps, four or five wards are sharing one depot. How can it handle agricultural marketing? How easy is it for our farmers to move their produce from their villages to that satellite depot? It is extremely difficult.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sejani: How can an agency, with the present farming levels, only have K500 billion? How can it manage to buy the type of crops that we are now talking about? No wonder there is a directive that none of these satellite depots will buy more than 80,000 bags of maize. There is a limitation to the number of bags each farmer can sell to the FRA. What will happen to the rest of their produce? What will happen to the bumper harvest that we are proud of?

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sejani: There will be no bumper harvest if this harvest will go to waste. It will mean we have never had a bumper harvest simply because the Government is not handling this issue properly. I think, with K100 billion, there will be no maize to talk about. How much is going to be bought from this amount of money? 

Madam, I know that the Government will argue that the FRA has been allowed to borrow money, but even with the additional K700 billion that it has been allowed to borrow, it is still falling far short of the amount needed to buy the bulk of the produce that our farmers have toiled to produce in the rural areas. It is lack of funding that delayed the opening of depots in the rural areas. In the past, the Government argued that it was the moisture content that caused the delay, but that was just a scapegoat. The reason was lack of funds.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sejani: That is why, even as the depots are now being opened, there are no empty grain bags.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sejani: It means that the FRA does not have the money to import these requisites on time.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sejani: Lack of funding is a major bottleneck in the marketing arrangement. This is what has created serious problems at the depots. The satellite depots in Zambia, today, are a sorry sight due to the many difficulties that farmers are facing. Many farmers sleep at the depots, for two or three weeks, to wait for their maize to be sorted out.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sejani: Many of them sleep at these depots, waiting to buy grain bags. I am talking about what I have experienced.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sejani: These conditions at the depot level engender breeding ground for corruption. Indeed, there is rampant corruption at the depot level in Zambia today. This corruption has eroded the profitability of the agricultural industry for our farmers. Something has seriously gone amiss and the Government must address it. 

Madam Speaker, underlying these practical difficulties I have talked about is the question on the policy on agricultural marketing. Officially, I know that the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) has liberalised agricultural marketing.

Mr Lubinda: On a point of order, Madam.

Mr Sejani: This means that the Government will not interfere in maize marketing. The only role that the Government will play in agricultural marketing is to create an enabling environment for the private sector to do the business of marketing.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sejani: Madam Speaker, however, fundamental questions must be asked whether an enabling environment in this country, truly, does exist to allow the private sector to participate. My argument is that, there is no enabling environment in Zambia which will allow the private sector to handle the responsibility of marketing.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sejani: This is because the enabling environment presupposes an elaborate road network in the rural areas that will permit the private sector to reach the most remote areas in Zambia. The feeder road network does not exist in Zambia. 

There is no one from the private sector who can reach the Shampondo area in Mapatizhya Constituency to buy maize. There are many such areas in Zambia that the private sector cannot reach because the road network is bad. 

Hon. UPND Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sejani: Under those circumstances, you cannot liberalise agriculture because nobody is going to go to those areas to buy the produce. 

Madam Speaker, an enabling environment also presupposes that there is adequate market information around to enable farmers know exactly what is happening in the field. Farmers must know who is buying maize, where they are buying it from and at what price. This information does not exist in our scenario. In other words, in Zambia, today, we are talking about the existence of an imperfect market …

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sejani: … and not a perfect one, where the buyer and seller know exactly what is happening. In elementary micro economics, we are told that a perfect market only exists where there is a great number of buyers and sellers who both know what is happening on the market. These conditions are absent in Zambia. Therefore, to let go of the market with all these deficiencies is a prelude to a disaster that we are staring in the face today. Do we have storage facilities in our rural areas?

Mr Muntanga: Zero!

Mr Sejani: Do we have processing facilities in Zambia?

Mr Muntanga: Zero! Shame!

Mr Sejani: We do not have an enabling environment and, because that environment is absent, it is suicidal to let go of the market, and yet this is what this Government is trying to do. 

Madam Speaker, unless we start addressing these bottlenecks, it will be extremely dangerous for this Government to slacken its involvement in matters of agricultural marketing. There is no credit in Zambia to allow for this growing private sector to go and borrow in order to do business. There is no business because there is no credit. So, how can you let go of the market to people in the private sector who, in reality, do not exist? We have a duty to ensure that before we let go of the market, we create an environment which is going to allow farmers to sell their produce. 

Madam Speaker, I have already stated that this Motion was designed to be a platform to allow hon. Members of this House to give ideas to the Government and see how we can move forward under this arrangement. On my part, I am making the following suggestions as I wind up:

(i)    if we still want the FRA to handle maize marketing, we need to urgently restructure it and create specific divisions to handle specific jobs. There should be a specific division to handle maize marketing. There must be a specific division to handle strategic reserves, fund it appropriately and in time so that there is sufficient time for the FRA to do its procurement unlike now when it is opening depots and, at the same time, fighting to import the requisites.
That is chaos and lack of planning. There is an urgent need to restructure the FRA if we still want it to play a role in agricultural marketing; 

(ii)    we need to have a second look at our levels of investment in terms of the rural feeder road network. We need a specific budget if not a marshal-plan- type of budget to fund a massive feeder road rehabilitation programme so that our rural areas are opened up. This way, farming will become profitable to rural farmers and enable the national private sector to reach these areas. Without a feeder road network, forget about agriculture interrelation;

(iii)    if we are going to export maize, which is a possible option, we must understand that the absence of the feeder road network or a poor road network means that the cost of production in this country is very high. This means that even when we export, we will not be competitive on the export market because of the cost of production. Therefore, we may have to consider an export subsidy to ensure that we offload some of the excess maize in this country onto the export market and earn some foreign exchange or money to drive growth in other areas. It is extremely important that we consider that particular aspect; and

(iv)    we must also continue to encourage the formation of farmers’ organisations. At the moment, the farmer is at the mercy of the buyer because, individually, the farmer is in a weak bargaining position. If we encourage the formation of associations and organisations, they will be in a stronger bargaining position to get a better reward for their sweat. I am not talking about organisations like the so-called co-operatives which are seasonal. These are co-operatives which are only formed when they know there is fertiliser coming in a week’s time. After receiving the fertiliser, they disband. That is not what I am talking about. I am talking about associations and organisations that have permanent structures and are predicted in their operations. These are offices which are going to operate to enhance the bargaining power of farmers. This must be considered. 

Madam Speaker, with those suggestions, let me conclude by saying that it is important that we pay attention to the problems that our farmers face today. 121 constituencies out of 150 in Zambia are rural based. 

Hon. UPND Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sejani: Madam Speaker, I think that proportion must be reflected in Cabinet. I do not want to reach a conclusion because I have also concluded in other countries that pure agriculture interests are not properly represented in Cabinet. I think that there are people in this Cabinet who represent rural areas and who know the problems that are being talked about. 

Madam Speaker, there are enough people in this Cabinet who feel for the Zambian farmers and who are prepared to take steps to reduce their problems We must make life more meaningful for our toiling masses. I am sure that if we put our heads together, there is absolutely nothing difficult that we cannot do. We must encourage our farmers to go back to the land because it is interesting, rewarding and worthwhile. That is why we are urging this Government to urgently address these perennial constraints so that our farmers can lead a more meaningful life.

Madam Speaker, I beg to move.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Madam Deputy Speaker: Does the seconder wish to speak now or later?

Dr Scott: Now, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker, I wish to complement rather than simply repeat or emphasise what the mover has most capably said. I want to start with a short theological point, whose relevance, I hope, becomes clear.  I quote from yesterday’s The Post newspaper, on page 4, which is referring to the hon. Minister of Community Development and Social Services, Mr Kaingu,

“Kaingu said that those who would not vote for Maopu on August 5, 2001, ‘that is the MMD Candidate in Luena’, would have some of their body parts burnt in hell because every Government was appointed by God.”


Dr Scott:  Madam Speaker, through you, I might point out that the clarification we have received from the hon. Minister that God is very concerned with the way people vote in Zambia and that small creatures with pointed tails and pitchforks saying, “The hour, the hour,” are likely to visit you in the after life, if you vote wrongly.


Dr Scott: Therefore, if anyone is contemplating voting …

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order! 

Hon. Member, as the seconder of the Motion, it is very important that you come out clearly on the Motion that you have brought to the House. 

Can you, please, debate the Motion. 

Dr Scott: Madam Speaker, I thank you for your guidance. I am sure that people have heeded the warning. This Motion must be passed because it addresses a perennial issue. 

Madam Speaker, the maize marketing business was a perennial issue from the time it was started by NAMBOARD, which was obliged to close in 1989 as part of a deal between the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the donors, and the Zambian Government, under Dr Kenneth Kaunda at the time. Various other arrangements like the Zambia Co-operative Federation and Lima Bank, which attempted to handle it, followed thereafter. 

My successor as Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, together with the then Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Ronald Penza, invented the promissory note. I know that there are people who think that I was the inventor of the promissory note. For example, I heard the Chief Whip, the other day, suggesting that I was the inventor of the note. I wish to assure him that it was invented by another muzungu who he may have mistaken for me. 


Dr Scott: It was Simon Zukas, my successor. 


Dr Scott: Madam Speaker, the most important people in agricultural marketing are the Ministers of Finance and National Planning and Agriculture and Co-operatives. This change of policy coincided with the change from Mr Emmanuel Kasonde to Mr Ronald Penza. 

There have been many changes of policy since then. One thing that has become very clear is that if we are to have any sort of private-sector involvement in maize marketing, the Government must stop being erratic and changing rules about exports, imports, minimum price and who can and cannot export. It is a gamble because anyone who goes into agricultural marketing, whether of imports or produce, as a private actor, is risking everything. It is like one of those games where you toss a coin and depending on where it lands − heads or tails − you lose or win another person’s house. It is the kind of thing that any person in the private sector wants to avoid. 

Madam Speaker, I recall that when we first drafted the Food Reserve Agency Act, which I personally wrote down in my own handwriting, we insisted that it gives clear notice of six months in advance of its policies regarding how much it was going to buy, what it was going to buy and what its policy on exports was going to be so that everybody knew that the State was a fixed feature in the market, predictable and knew what it was doing. However, by the time the Act reached this House, somewhere in 1995 or 1996, it got watered down and had virtually given the Government back all the rights to change its mind about the buying or credit policies overnight or when there were elections. 

The main point I wish to underline, Madam Speaker, is that, at least, we must know where we are if we are going to become involved in the private sector. I could give you names of private sector actors who went into fertiliser marketing because the Government assured them of moving out of the business only to find the Government coming back into the market with subsidised fertilisers and driving them out of business. This happened again and again. For the Government, therefore, to persuade someone to go into the fertiliser business, as a private actor, is virtually impossible. Too many people have burnt their fingers. 

Madam Speaker, I admit that even in our Drought Recovery Programme in 1992, we had similar problems. We would set prices at a certain level while at the same time telling the private sector that it was free to import and sell. We simply got the prices wrong and they went bust and never did it again. This is one lesson learnt that I really wish to strongly underline. 

I also wish to underline the fact that there are many variables affecting the viability of the maize sector. One of them is the exchange rate and not simply the matter of the price of maize itself. Whether you can export or not depends much on having an exchange rate that is favourable to exporters. You need a rate that will return more Kwacha per dollar than less Kwacha per dollar. Of course, such an exchange rate is not necessarily nice for the urban elite, but a strong exchange rate can be disadvantageous to the rural poor. 

Of course, anyone wanting to operate in this system needs to know the Government’s policy. At the moment, hundreds of millions of dollars of the IMF reserves, special drawing rights, are being devoted to buying the Kwacha to prop up the price, making speculators rich and depriving the country of money which could be used for infrastructure development. The same money from the IMF can build feeder roads in rural areas, but it is being channeled into town to give a luxurious lifestyle to some people. This must be one of the few countries in the world where you can get into a traffic jam consisting of Hummers and Mercedes Benz cars.


Dr Scott: If you can take your Hummer or Mercedes Benz car to Malawi, they will all gather around and admire it and clap because they have never seen such a thing. 


Dr Scott: Madam Speaker, lastly, I know that it is very difficult to get some professionalism in a ministry. The Aztec people who invented the cultivation of maize used to sacrifice human beings by rolling them down pyramids after tearing out their hearts to get eaten by the people at the bottom. We have changed that policy a bit in Zambia. Now, we just sacrifice ministers.


Dr Scott: Every year, there is one minister sacrificed, rolled down a metaphorical pyramid and another one appointed. I think that the one we have now is the ninth or tenth. 


Madam Deputy Speaker: Order! 

Hon. Member …

Dr Scott: Madam Speaker, hopefully, he will not be sacrificed. 

Madam Speaker, in South Africa, for instance, there is an investigation into fertiliser marketing. It is suspected that the three South African fertiliser manufacturers, Sasol Limited, Omnia Fertiliser Limited and Kynoch or ICI Limited, which has since changed names, have been price fixing for some years now. Sasol has admitted that it has been fixing prices and, despite having confessed, was fined more than US$25 million. The other two are still being investigated. The South Africa Competition Commission is putting huge fines against these fertiliser companies. 

These are the same fertiliser firms that have been supplying us, and yet the Zambia Competition Commission (ZCC) does not appear to be even slightly interested in this information. The South African Farmers’ Union is now looking at this problem and wanting to claim back from these companies the excess price they were charged. 

We are talking about subsidising imports to farmers, and yet we do not know if there is someone else hiking the price of imports. We are not being professional enough. Professionalism, clarity and predictability are the virtues of a government. In addition to what Hon. Sejani has proposed, these are the sine qua nons, hon. Minister.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order! 

Hon. Member, …

Dr Scott: Madam.


Madam Deputy Speaker: Order! 

The hon. Member will be serious in his debate and debate through the Chair. I am not expecting to have a conversation with you. So, you may wind up your debate properly.

Dr Scott: Madam Speaker, I add clarity, professionalism and predictability to the other criteria which the most capable hon. Member for Mapatizya mentioned as key virtues for a government.

 I thank you, Madam Speaker.

 Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Major Chizhyuka (Namwala): Madam Speaker, the Motion on the Floor is a very good one for our country, the Republic of Zambia.

Madam Speaker, if any hon. Member went on the internet, today, and searched for Hon. Major Robby Chizhyuka, one of the topics that one is bound to find as my concern is that of the maize marketing exercise in the Republic of Zambia. My desire is to see a semblance of NAMBOARD recreated. One thing I have suggested under those topics is to have preferably two types of maize marketing boards, one in the southern and the other in the northern part of the country.

Madam Speaker, the mover of this Motion talked a lot about marketing. We do not have a market, and yet we have such a large country which is arable with a population of about 12 million. Questions are often asked as to why China is advancing so rapidly and achieving what the United States of America has been able to achieve in 127 years in thirty years as calculated by some people. Why is it that the Asian tigers such as India are achieving the kind of growth which is a threat to the west? 

Madam Speaker, the only reason is that those countries have the capacity to trade within their own countries. China has its own market which is much bigger than the market of the entire Africa. The other time, I was corrected in this House by the Hon. Mr Speaker that the population of China was at 1.3 billion. However, I can assure you that the population of China is gradually getting to 1.4 billion. 

As at 2007, the population of India was at 1,129,866,154 which provided a good local market. Therefore, it is possible for such countries to find a local market for certain goods and only export at a certain level. Do we have a local market for a country like Zambia which has a population of about 12 million? The answer is that the market is small. More and more Zambians are going into agriculture than they used to in 1964, 1974 and 1984. Therefore, the issue of a market is one which we need to discuss in a sober manner. We must realise that even if we have problems at hand, at the centre of them all is our small market.

Madam Speaker, I was happy to hear the mover of the Motion compare the staffing levels at the FRA to those of NAMBOARD. There are about 150 employees at the FRA and they were about 7,000 at NAMBOARD during those days. For me, as you all know, including yourself, Madam Speaker, I have said …

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order!   


Madam Deputy Speaker: Do not bring the Chair into your debate. The Chair is listening to you. Therefore, you do not know what the Chair is aware of. 

 You may continue, please.

Major Chizhyuka: Madam Speaker, the Managing Director of the corporation that the mover of this Motion was talking about was none other than Rupiah Bwezani Banda. It is like the mover of the Motion was looking at those good old days.

Hon. Government Member: Hear, hear!

Major Chizhyuka: How nice and intriguing that, today, Rupiah Bwezani Banda is the President of the Republic of Zambia. This should give us a lot of hope for the future.

 Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Major Chizhyuka: Madam Speaker, the man who is now at the helm of the Government has the capacity to address the matters that we are looking at so that the issues that the mover …

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Major Chizhyuka: … was referring to are dealt with.

Madam Speaker, at one time, I applied for a loan from the Lima Bank so that I could get an initial 100 herd of cattle. The main question that the bank asked me was about my past performance because it wanted to know whether I had a previous record of keeping a large number of cattle. Similarly, it is important for us to bear in mind that even in political parties as we try to push some of our colleagues to lead this nation they must have the experience of having come to Manda Hill.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Major Chizhyuka: Madam Speaker, you can only understand how Motions are delivered when you have had an opportunity to have come to this august House.

 Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear! 

Major Chizhyuka: Madam Speaker, if you have been to this august House, you will also understand how the parliamentary committee system operates. In fact, in its oversight role, the parliamentary committee system provides checks and balances to the Government. Therefore, it is quite fitting that His Excellency the President, Rupiah Bwezani Banda, who had experience as Managing Director of NAMBOARD, as stated by the mover of the Motion, is the President of this country.

 Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Major Chizhyuka: Madam Speaker, I can see hope for the future in the area of maize marketing.

 Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Major Chizhyuka: Madam Speaker, this is despite the FRA having its own problems. The only thing that really bothers my mind is how people change their stance on issues. I stated in this House, at one time, that as we stand to speak, it is important for us to be mindful of our earlier statements on particular issues. I was corrected and told that even as an hon. Member of the Opposition, I could always change my stance on a particular issue. As per my culture where I come from, it is very difficult to do that because we stand on principles of the Kafue flats. We want to stick to our earlier statements because that is what holds our morals together.

As it has been portrayed, today, by both the mover and the seconder of this Motion, the FRA was created around the time when the hon. Member for Lusaka Central was Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives.  


Dr Scott: On a point of order.


Madam Deputy Speaker: Order!

A point of order is raised. Switch off the microphone.

Dr Scott: Madam Speaker, I did not mean to interrupt the hon. Member debating on the Floor of this House.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order! Order!

Dr Scott: Madam Speaker, as a matter of fact, the Food Reserve Agency Bill came to this House in early 1995, if my memory serves me right, and was passed in early 1996. By then, Hon. Nawakwi was the Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives.


Madam Deputy Speaker: Order! Order!

The hon. Member on the Floor may take that into account as he continues to debate.

May you continue, please.

Major Chizhyuka: Madam Speaker, I was saying that, when assignments are given to us to run the affairs of this country in various ministerial portfolios, it is important for us to remember where we are coming from. It is also important for us to remember, after our tenure is over, whether or not we performed to the expectations of our people in those ministries.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


Major Chizhyuka: In view of the fact that I can see some movement on my left, I will leave those issues alone.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Deputy Madam Speaker: Order!

There is only one Motion. The hon. Member should stick to the Motion that he is debating.

Major Chizhyuka: Madam Speaker, the FRA issue is very important and I have always urged this Government to analyse the operations of the agency.

In the United Party for National Development (UPND), under the late Anderson Mazoka, we talked about introducing contract farming. This is the kind of farming where a certain group of farmers is contracted for a specific assignment either to grow crops for export or the provision of food reserves. These are some of the ideas that can be looked at, especially that we are now going back to the way things used to be in the past.

Madam Speaker, I have always said that the FRA draws its historical aspects from Joseph and the Pharaoh in Egypt.

Hon. Member: Mmm.

Major Chizhyuka: Those who are very religious will remember that the Pharaoh dreamt seven days of bad things and seven days of good things. Joseph was able to interpret that …

Mr Muntanga: Seven years!

Major Chizhyuka: Seven years, thank you for that correction.

2000 years ago, in seven years, Joseph was able to organise food reserves for the people of Egypt which they consumed in the seven years that followed. They had a lot of food in their reserves. Such planning makes a lot of sense. 

For this reason, I agree with the mover of this Motion that it is important to enhance the capacity of the FRA so that it can stock strategic food reserves for five years.

Madam Speaker, I come from a military background and, in that field, you do not continuously look at your neighbours as friends.


Hon. Member: Hear, hear!

Major Chizhyuka: At some point, a time may come when you will require having sufficient strategic food reserves to feed your troops. Again, at some point, a nation will require to have sufficient strategic food reserves in order to control the pricing mechanisms in the country. Indeed, a country will require a food reserve agency that will have the capacity to stock and feed its own people during the years of famine. Therefore, I like the idea of enhancing the strategic food reserves.

The mover of the Motion stated that, even at present, people still stand in long queues at night at the FRA depots. This is happening at Chitongwe in Namwala. As I stand here, today, Madam Speaker, it is true that thousands upon thousands of people are waiting to sell their crop to the FRA because it offers better prices …

Mr D. Mwila: Hear, hear!

Major Chizhyuka: … than the salaula fellows.


Major Chizhyuka: These are the chaps who exchange second hand clothes with maize …

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order! 

The hon. Member will not start talking about chaps in here.


Madam Deputy Speaker: Stick to parliamentary language.

Major Chizhyuka: I withdraw the word ‘chaps’.

So, it is important that we realign the way we do things. However, as I earlier mentioned, the maize marketing problem is being handled by people with past experience in this field. I think we are better off following their lead and options.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Major Chizhyuka: I support the participation of private buyers in the market because there are remote areas where the FRA cannot go. I spoke to the Managing Director of the FRA and some of his officers and they told me that the problem of distance to the market is real.

As we request the Government to work on the road infrastructure such as the rural feeder roads, we, in the Opposition, must not oppose the works by saying, “No, do not build these roads because it is now time for political campaigns. You want to rig the elections by working on the roads.”

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Major Chizhyuka: As Zambians, we should accept the fact that roads are necessary to get the crops to the market so that the private buyers can increase the maize market by reaching the remotest areas of our country.

Madam Speaker, I feel that we have a very healthy Motion which is non-partisan. We must all support it. However, to aspire for leadership in certain areas, you must have past experience.

I thank you, Madam Speaker.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!{mospagebreak}

Madam Deputy Speaker: I just want to guide the House that if you are not too sure of what you are saying, do not mislead the House by quoting from books, including the Bible. The dream you referred to was not about years, but fat and thin cows.


Mr Nkombo (Mazabuka Central): Madam Speaker, I wish to thank you for the opportunity you have given me to participate in the debate of the Motion on the Floor of this House. I also wish to thank the mover and the seconder of the Motion who are not in their seats at the moment.

However, before I bring a slightly different dimension to the debate, I think it is also important to add to what my colleagues have already said that this Motion is non-partisan and, therefore, requires the support of all the well-meaning hon. Members of Parliament seated here in this House.

Why has the Motion come to the Floor of this House? It is because of the recognition that the current system is defective and requires an overhaul in order for our rural masses to see the benefits of working hard. They have been working hard for many years. For this reason, I will not trivialise this Motion to the level were people will not appreciate it.

Madam Speaker, the MMD, which is the Ruling Party, has, for a long time, enjoyed support from rural Zambia where most of the affected people in this defective marketing system are domiciled. Therefore, I would only request that the Government gives us adequate attention as we debate the Motion on the Floor of this House. As the mover of the Motion stated, and he was quite emphatic about it, we are sharing a few ideas and hopefully some people will see some sense that will prompt them to act in as far as revamping the agricultural marketing system in this country is concerned. We need to find ways of how we can make our people directly benefit from the fields that they cultivate year in and year out.

Madam, currently, we are in a crisis countrywide. In Mazabuka, just here at Mugoto, 70 km away from Lusaka, farmers sleep outside the small FRA warehouse for nearly two weeks without their produce being taken into the warehouse. What that means is that …


Madam Deputy Speaker: Order! Order!

If the hon. Members are not ready to listen, they still must lower their voices to allow the Chair follow the debate. Consultations are a little bit too loud.

May the hon. Member continue, please.

Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, many farmers countrywide − although I will only refer to those I saw − are camping at warehouses waiting for their grain to be admitted. The farmers at Chokola have been camping for the past two weeks without having their maize admitted. The reasons that have been advanced for this situation are that of high moisture content of the grain and the lack of availability of grain bags. 

Madam Speaker, in my view, the issue of grain bags is a simple one, especially if maize has to be reserved for local consumption in the future. It is different when maize is packaged for export because then, there is an insistence on a uniform brand of the bags. 

Madam Speaker, a few weeks ago, the issue of moisture content on grain was raised and the hon. Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives informed the House that maize was not being admitted into warehouses because millers were buying it and taking it straight to their mills. He went on to say that the grain could not be stored because there was the risk of it going bad or discolouring because of heat. As such, farmers have been told to return to their homes with their maize and only return it, in two weeks time, after the moisture has dropped to normal levels. However, it has to be borne in mind that for these farmers to transport their maize, they have to borrow from people who are more economically stable than they are. How are these people expected to survive in such a scenario?

 Madam Speaker, in the past, we had open storage spaces in Monze, Choma and, may I simply say, along the line of rail. These allowed the then organisations that were charged with the responsibility of keeping food in open air …


Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, I beg to be excused. This is not a trivial matter and so I do not appreciate the comments coming from your right. 

Open storage spaces can be instituted even this time around if the Government could invest in security. This way,  maize can be admitted into the FRA without grappling with the issue of moisture content which if we continue doing, we will have a deficit of maize by December even for our local consumption because we know that traders and milling companies are busy buying.

Madam Speaker, I will take you back to 2008 when the marketing system was defective. When millers and grain traders, who are well-known to this Government, formed a cartel against the living conditions of poor Zambians, it caused great embarrassment for a member of the Executive, I think, Hon. Dr Chituwo, who was then Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives. There came a time in the year when the cartel caused people who grew the maize, the people from the countryside, to come to towns to queue up for mealie-meal. 

Madam Speaker, in the process, during the course of 2008, we heard how some children of very powerful individuals engaged into the importation of maize which would cost this country more than five times the import parity price. That was scandalous and it was I who blew the whistle about the 500 tonnes of maize that had come into this country being genetically modified.

Madam Speaker, that is why I find it pretty upsetting when somebody tries to trivialise an matter important as this one. We do not want to see a situation, in the future, where people manipulate others in order for them to cash in later in the year. The bumper harvest that the Government is continuously talking about will be meaningless for as long as it does not get things correct.

Madam Speaker, I agreed with the mover of the Motion on the need to break the FRA into smaller divisions that will be responsible for various aspects. However, surely, is there a need for a division to deal with grain bags, which is, currently, the problem we are faced with? Somebody should have known in good time that we expected a bumper harvest and, hence the Government singing about it. So, why forget to prepare for the packaging? It is embarrassing not only to the Government, but also to us who share ideas with it. This should not repeat itself. 

Madam Speaker, we have full knowledge of the manoeuvres this Government is engaged in to try to correct the situation. We are entering the month of August and we know that the Government is still negotiating for moneys from the banks to buy maize. That being the case and knowing that this money was needed like yesterday, what interest rate does the Government think will be charged on the loans that it wants to commit the people of Zambia on? The principle of supply and demand immediately checks in. There is no way one can desperately look for a loan and expect to enjoy a good interest on it.

Madam Speaker, the core essence that has prompted the bringing of this Motion to the House by the mover is to persuade the ladies and gentlemen on your right to apply some seriousness in matters that affect the majority of the Zambian people. After all, it boasts of having received overwhelming support from them.

Madam Speaker, I have a few ideas to share with the House because, in my previous life, I was a warehouse man and worked closely with Hon. Dr Guy Scott and Hon. Chileshe Kapwepwe. The two can attest to the fact that I know what I am talking about. The mover of the Motion indicated that there is a need to give recognition to the sustainable co-operative societies that do not have a 365 day lifespan. The Government should empower those that are recognised and then introduce what is known as a warehouse receipt system.

Madam Speaker, the introduction of the warehouse receipt system will automatically eliminate certain categories of traders that the hon. Members who spoke before referred to. This system works on the basis of a warehouse receipt which is irrevocable, non-transferable and as good as cash. 

Madam Speaker, for argument’s sake, if a co-operative took one thousand bags of maize to a warehouse, it would be given a warehouse receipt even without money exchanging hands. This receipt would, obviously, have to be a secure document that cannot forged. Therefore, if the Government created an enabling environment, the co-operative can then go to any bank, which happens everywhere in the world, and onlend, based on the warehouse receipt. Thereafter, it can put the money in its safe, give the bank, maybe, 80 per cent of the value of that produce and go back to a given village and buy more maize. That way, even the local economy in Mapatizya will be promoted. I think that is workable, but for as long as briefcase business gentlemen and ladies are going to be allowed to buy maize, for example, in Mugoto, after dining at Rhapsody’s in Lusaka, the money will not remain there. 

Madam Speaker, I think that the warehouse receipt system is one good solution that the Government can try to implement and it should also try to engage financial institutions to respect that document. For instance, if you go to Rotterdam or Antwerp, you will find that the economies of their countries basically thrive on grain trade. If you also go to the Americas, you will understand that the big grain traders are sitting on that continent and operate based on the warehouse receipt system.

Madam Speaker, I would also like, maybe, to try and share with the House, the need for us to have a marshall plan to construct storage facilities in this country. There is nothing that this Government can be proud of having built other than what is standing in Kapiri-Mposhi. The only storages are the recently-built Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) sheds, which have the capacity of, probably, 100,000 tonnes for the entire country, and the silos that the Government has tried to rehabilitate for a long time with most of them just having faulty conveyer belts. Therefore, there is a need to put money in the construction of safe warehouses closer to the people.

Madam Speaker, so far, we have done quite well with the SIDA sheds. However, those of us who have worked in that area before know that since the sheds are made of corrugated iron sheets, they are vulnerable to theft. This is because people will walk in and unscrew the bolts and take out maize. The loss of a couple of tonnes of maize would only be realised upon wanting to sell the maize. There is a need to build solid structures to keep this maize because for as long we carry on with a laissez-faire attitude regarding the maize marketing system, we are going pay a very dear price one day.

Madam Speaker, once again, I want to urge my colleagues on the right to take this Motion seriously and end by thanking the Mover and Seconder.

I thank you, Madam Speaker.

Mrs Masebo (Chongwe): Thank you very much, Madam Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to the debate on this very important Motion. I want to start by thanking the mover and seconder of the Motion and I want to state that the Motion is timely, especially for us, hon. Members of Parliament coming from rural constituencies and Chongwe Constiuency in particular.

Madam Speaker, I can safely say that 70 per cent of the population in Chongwe heavily depends on agriculture. Therefore, this issue is currently burning in my constituency and, everyday, I receive calls from farmers who are asking questions in relation to marketing their crops. I hope that my colleagues who are going to contribute to the debate on this Motion will help the Government, through the relevant minister, by giving advice on how to solve some of the problems that are actually coming up on a daily basis.

Madam Speaker, first of all, I want to commend the Government on the bumper harvest, this year, in comparison to the past years. 

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mrs Masebo: I am told that about 30 million 50Kg bags of maize have been produced. I will not use the tonnage because I want people in Chongwe to follow my debate on this matter easily.

Madam Speaker, I am also told that the FRA will only buy 6 million bags of maize out of the 30 million bags, this year. So, obviously, we are talking about 18 million 50 Kg bags of maize surplus, considering that the consumption will only be 12 million. Obviously, one can see the challenge the issue of the surplus will pose as I have heard the hon. Minister, in the past, make statements that exports will be allowed.

Madam Speaker, I just want to say that it is not the first time we are going to have a problem on the issue of maize marketing and I think that we should look at the factors that are affecting it in this country. We need to look at the issue of production itself and its cost. There are a number of issues that seem to be affecting our production which, at the end of the day, affects the marketing of our crop. For instance, how good is our road network? Do we have sufficient depots as storage facilities in the country to enable our farmers store maize when they have problems in marketing it? 

Madam Speaker, the current price of the maize which the Government has put at, K65,000 per 50 Kg bag is, indeed, very good and I know that farmers are quite happy about it. However, the problem is that when it is compared to other prices within the region, it is more expensive. So, even exporting it becomes a problem. Zambian maize cannot be exported to South Africa, for example, because the landed cost of South African maize in Zambia, today, may be cheaper than what is produced here. Therefore, because of the high production costs, especially that of inputs, people will have difficulties in selling their crops even if exporting it will be allowed.

Madam Speaker, last year, most of us bemoaned the number of satellite depots established. For example, in Chongwe, last year, we only had about seven buying points, but, this year, we have been given fifteen and I would like to thank the hon. Minister for that. However, this number is still insufficient because the constituency is very large. By the way, Chongwe, this year, is currently at number two from Mkushi in terms of total production of maize crop. So, fifteen depots are not good enough as people still have to move long distances to sell their maize. In addition to this, farmers face transportation problems.

Madam Speaker, therefore, there is a need to look at other avenues on how best the marketing can generally be improved. I know that the Government, in the past, has tried to do something about this by allocating sufficient resources to enable farmers sell their produce to the FRA. However, unfortunately, as we heard earlier, people have borrowed from the FRA and not paid back. In turn, the FRA faces problems in raising enough resources. 

Madam Speaker, in past Budgets, a lot of money has been allocated to the FRA, but these funds have always fallen shot because of high production costs or outstanding debts. In as far as marketing in Zambia is concerned, the issue of policy has not been very clear and that is where we have had problem. 

In the past, the policy was for the Government to give money to the private sector to buy all the crops in the country.

However, we all know that what happened is that most people did not pay back and, therefore, the Government, obviously, had to abandon this system. This would have been a very good system, but we, ourselves, as Zambians, disappointed the Government at that time. 

Now, the problem I see is that we seem to have a dual agricultural marketing system in this country. There are peasant farmers on one hand and commercial farmers on the other hand. Therefore, there is always a problem of coming up with a consistent marketing system that would work for both types of farmers. When a particular system is put in place, either peasant farmers feel undermined by commercial farmers or vice versa. Hence, this problem we have, all the time, of failing to come up with a proper pricing mechanism. Even with the current floor price of K65,000 per 50 kg bag of maize, peasant farmers are happy, but commercial farmers and millers have complained about it not being good enough or that it is too high. 

Therefore, the Government needs to review this issue and have a clear and consistent policy on the role of the FRA. What do we want the FRA to do? Do we want to use the FRA for strategic maize reserves or we want it to behave like a trader in the whole system of marketing? If, for example, we allow the FRA to be used specifically for strategic buying, then we should liberalise the whole marketing system. This way, the pricing of maize will be determined by the market forces. I know that this has its own problems, but it is better for the Government to stipulate clearly the policy on how marketing of maize is going to be done. I know that this will have to take time. 

If, for example, the Government decides that we are going to liberalise the marketing of maize, but the FRA will only buy for strategic reserves, over time, we will not have problems in the marketing of maize. How else can we explain why we do not have problems with the marketing of tomatoes, for example? We know that a box of tomatoes costs K15,000 during a certain period of time and during another season, the same box will be at K100,000, but people still manage to sell them. Likewise, with peanuts, there are no politics involved. However, when it comes to maize marketing, there are all these politics and problems. 

This means that there is something wrong with our agricultural marketing policy. It seems we are not very consistent and keep changing goal posts. Sometimes, we decide that we are going to liberalise the market, but when there is a public outcry, for instance, in Chongwe, we change and decide to get involved in the buying of crops.  

Sometime back, the then hon. Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives talked about the FRA buying maize only from far-flung places such as the Northern Province, where it is too far for the private sector to buy maize from. He also said that places such as Chisamba and Chongwe, which are near to towns like Lusaka, would be left for the private sector. Of course, this never took off because, as usual, politics came into play. In other words, hon. Members of Parliament, like myself, obviously, wanted the Government to buy maize from all our constituencies. For example, I would want the FRA to buy maize from Chongwe and not only from far-places such as Mbala because the people in my constituency would feel that they may be unfairly treated by the private sector.

Madam Speaker, I, therefore, think that the key issue here is one of policy, hence the Government’s need to come out clearly on what it wants to achieve. We must ensure that we come up with a policy that will be implemented consistently for a good period of time to see positive results. It is not right for us to keep on changing decisions, every year, as this creates problems. 

I am also aware that the hon. Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives recently went to Geneva where I remember him saying he was going to source for markets for our crops. I hope that when he stands up, he can tell us what the results of that trip were. I hope that he was able to find markets for our maize, especially taking into account that our crops are, currently, expensive compared to the prices in our neighbouring countries which, I think, is because our cost of production is quite high.

In this vein, the Government needs to look at the issue of the cost of inputs as this is what is distorting the price of maize in the country. Agricultural inputs are very expensive in Zambia as compared to countries such as Malawi, which are further away from South Africa, where we all source these inputs from. Despite being cheaper, agricultural inputs to Malawi have to pass through Zambia from South Africa. It, therefore, does not make sense that South African fertiliser should be cheaper in Malawi than here when we are closer to the source. I know that inputs in other countries are subsidised but, even so, I still feel that the cost of production in this country, especially when it comes …

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order!

Business was suspended from 1615 hours until 1630 hours. 


Mrs Masebo: Madam Speaker, before business was suspended, I was saying that, in the past and currently, there efforts have been made by the Government to try and make maize marketing in Zambia better, but, obviously, the challenges still remain. Therefore, the Government of the day needs to really look at this issue.

Madam Speaker, I also want to state that it is not so much the issue of roads or, indeed, the high cost of inputs, but, as I said earlier, policy. We have to be clear on our marketing policy and, especially, on the role of the FRA. What exactly do we want the FRA to do for us? Is it to buy maize, specifically, for strategic keeping, if I may use that term, or are we going to continue to use the FRA to buy and sell locally and even export, as has been the case, sometimes, as well as import? 

Madam, something is wrong because, sometimes, like now, we are supposed to sell our maize, but it is the most expensive in the region. When the time comes for importing, we will be importing at a very high cost. Obviously, this has negative effects on the pricing of our staple food, which is mealie-meal. Therefore, looking at where we are coming from, and these issues have been raised several times before, the Government has tried, in the past and even presently, to improve the situation but, somehow, we still face the same challenges.

In conclusion, I think that we must come up with a comprehensive policy on maize marketing and decide to either completely liberalise the market or continue to involve the FRA in maize buying. If we continue with the status quo, then we must fund the FRA fully. If we do this, then the issues that we have talked about such as the FRA running out of empty bags, will be a thing of the past. All the problems that the agency is, currently, facing have to do with resources. How much did this Parliament give the FRA this year? The allocation was not adequate and, therefore, sometimes, even as we criticise these institutions, we must also be fair. There is very little that even a genius can do to make an institution perform efficiently if it is not adequately funded. 

Thus, the problem of the money that we give to this body also begins with us, as Parliament. We should ask ourselves whether the money that we give the agency is enough. 

Madam Speaker, three years ago, we had allocated some money amounting to K50 billion or K100 billion. We came back to this House under supplementary budget to give the FRA three times the amount that we had allocated initially. This meant that the initial amount was not enough. Therefore, all these factors must be taken into account.

Madam Speaker, I support the Government policy on subsidising production, especially for our staple food. I can tell you that farmers have really appreciated the programme by the Government to help them with the inputs. If we stopped, especially now, the results would be very bad for us, as a country, in terms of poverty levels.

Otherwise, we are doing well, but we need to do a little more in ensuring that the system is streamlined and seal the loopholes. We know, for instance, that when there are 30 million bags and you are only able to buy 6 million, this will bring corruption along the way. It goes without saying that you do not have to be a genius to know that when there is a shortage of money in the Government coffers and if the Government bought 6 million bags instead of 30 million, there will be corruption. Those who may think otherwise would be lying because the facts are there. Even in my constituency, now, people are telling me that the farmers have difficulties in selling their maize at the depots and they spend nights there, sleepng with their maize. They also said that for you to have your maize bought, you need to bosha (bribe) somebody to help you have your maize weighed quickly.

Madam Speaker, in any given situation, if there is a shortage of anything, obviously, it will breed corruption. Therefore, we need to find a solution for the Government to buy all the maize that it financed so that the farmers can stop having problems in selling their produce. 

Madam Speaker, on warehousing, this system has worked well in many countries and it worked under Dr Kaunda’s administration.

Madam Speaker, we need to look at and learn from the past. Of course, the past cannot be compared with the current situation because we are in a multi-party system where politicking is the order of the day. Therefore, the Government still has to be careful when comparing its administration to that of Dr Kaunda’s because some of the co-operatives, as many will agree, are political. They just exist when it is time for marketing and they are gone after that. 

Madam Speaker, there are also issues of capacity. Due to the increase in population, production has also increased and this has led to the mushrooming of co-operatives in the country. This has, in turn, resulted in fewer resources in terms of capacity building for the agricultural sector. However, I am happy now that even in places such as Chongwe, the work of extension officers has improved. This is because the ministry is now providing them with transport such as motorcycles and bicycles. To this extent, I would like to state that there is some improvement, but we still have challenges in marketing our agricultural produce.

I thank you, Madam.

Mr Sing’ombe (Dundumwezi): Madam Speaker, I thank you for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to this important Motion today. 

Madam Speaker, if there is an area where this Government has not done much, it is in the agriculture sector. Sometimes, I wonder why people behave as though they do not live in this country and that they do not understand the different seasons such that when they come to Zambia, they fail to put things in order.

Madam Speaker, the people are not happy about what is happening in this area. As I am speaking now, we do not have empty grain bags and the ministry is aware because it was responsible for giving the same people who gave us the input. They were even encouraging farmers to plant early maturing seeds. Therefore, to come to this month of the year without empty grain bags, I wonder whether farmers will get these bags.

Madam Speaker, even where we have satellite depots, there are problems, as already pointed out by those who debated before me. Therefore, why have satellite depots in places that are far from the farmers? Do people have to walk long distances of about 30 km to get to the nearest depot? Even when they get to the depot, you find that about 4,000 farmers get serviced by one scale that can only weigh 50 kg of maize at a time. This means that even if you have 200 farmers, you cannot manage to weigh their maize in a reasonable amount of time.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sing’ombe: Madam Speaker, the marketing system in this country has, somehow, collapsed and, for the past one month, I have noticed that the hon. Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives has not been in the House amidst all these problems. I want to urge him to reduce on flying and instead drive to the countryside so that he can see what is happening there.

A few months ago, we were complaining about the hon. Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry’s movements and now we have seen another hon. Minister flying all over. Hon. Minister, you should go round the country and see what is happening to our farmers. Farmers are made to sleep at satellite depots in the cold and this will now be a breeding ground for HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, these places do not have enough toilets..

Madam Speaker, the other issue that I want to zero-in is that in as much as I agree that we should have many players, I thought, as hon. Members of Parliament, we are here to represent the vulnerable people. However, if I am to borrow Hon. Major Chizhyuka’s word that he used the last time he talked of chihunya, some people are now behaving like chihunya.

Hon. Members: What is that?

Mr Sing’ombe: Ask Hon. Major Robbie Chizhyuka and he will tell you what chihunya is.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order! That is not the rule. You will tell the House what that means.

Mr Sing’ombe: According to Hon. Major Chizhyuka, chihunya is an insect that stays in the soil and eats itself after it has eaten what is around.


Mr Sing’ombe: I wonder why we should distribute inputs to the farmers and then, at the end of the day, fail to buy what we gave them. This ministry should ensure that …

Mr Ngoma: On a point of order, Madam.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order!

I do not see any breach of procedure. I think that the point of order has to be according to the guidelines on points of order.

A point of order is raised.

Mr Ngoma: Madam Speaker, I did not intend to disturb my colleague, the hon. Member for Dundumwezi, but, we have always been guided that when we are debating, we are supposed to be factual and very clear about what we are talking about. I wanted to find out whether it is in order for the hon. Member for Dundumwezi to mislead the House by saying that the chivunya is an insect which sits in the ground and eats itself without fully explaining that chivunya is an insect which, after it finishes eating its food, eats its backside and wants to sit down? Is he in order to mislead the House?


Madam Deputy Speaker: The hon. Member of Parliament for Sinda is from Sinda and the hon. Member of Parliament for Dundumwezi is from Dundumwezi. Maybe, there are two types of chivunyas.

Therefore, the hon. Member may continue.


Mr Sing’ombe: Madam Speaker, actually, my brother has ably explained what chivunya is. 

I was about to say that even when we allow businessmen  and women to buy from our farmers, the ministry has not helped the vulnerable people by checking whether the scales  used are standardised. In most cases, businesspeople use substandard scales where, for instance, a 50 kg bag of maize will weigh about 35 kg and the ministry is nowhere to assist. So, even when businesspeople are allowed to come in, I would like to urge the Government to put in place a modality to ensure that when vulnerable farmers sell their maize to these businesspeople, they sell  it at the correct price and weight.

Madam, I thank you.

The Deputy Minister in the Vice-President’s Office (Mr Sichilima): Madam Speaker, I rise to debate the Motion moved by my colleague, Hon. Sejani, urging the Government to urgently address the perennial constraints in the agricultural marketing system in order to enhance food security in the country. 

From the outset, I would like to urge this side of the House to be mild in its debate when educating our colleagues who are in support of this Motion, which must be rejected completely because ...

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sichilima: ... it is talking about issues which this hard-working Government is already implementing.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sichilima: Madam Speaker, I have been in this House for quite some time. I am not an agriculturist, but I grew up on a farm. My father was one of the first black Zambian farmers among almost 3,000 white farmers in the Northern Province.

Madam Speaker, what is coming out of this debate is misleading. When the Government gives inputs to farmers, it does not know what the output will be. There could be other farmers who could have graduated from the programme in the previous season and could have bought inputs on their own, but because they have not produced enough to be termed as commercial farmers, they are bound to sell to the FRA. For example, is it not pleasing to a parent when they take a child to school and if, at some point, the child does well in school, the parent says, “Well done my daughter or well done my son”? 

A few years ago, I was in the Back Bench, Madam Speaker. During that time, there was a problem in this country where one part of this country had no maize. The Government involved the FRA to buy maize from one corner of the country to take to the other. Now, we are saying that the FRA has no capacity to buy and people have to queue up. Of course, we can have problems, but, I think, this is an indication that the FRA and the Government have done very well ...

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sichilima: ... because there is so much maize that the FRA is taking long to buy it. 

Lieutenant-General Shikapwasha: Hear, hear!

Mr Sichilima: Let us give credit where it is due. 

On the issue of the moisture content in maize, I do not know what is wrong with alerting people about that. It is just a matter of sensitising farmers because people may end up buying maize which is going to rot wherever they are going to store it. Therefore, farmers must be able to harvest on time when the moisture content is permissible to sell.

As regards the issue of releasing money, at some point, in this House, we talked bout releasing K50 billion. Farming is a business. Hon. Members have been urging the Government to empower the Zambians. Now, if there is a lot of maize, why should the Zambians not take this opportunity to buy and resell elsewhere? 

On the issue of millers, the hon. Member for Kasama Central, who is a miller, must take advantage of this opportunity. The millers should go and buy from areas where the FRA cannot reach. 

Madam, I also heard one hon. Member mention that there are about 150 FRA workers, but the Government has empowered people by allowing the co-operatives and agents of the FRA to buy maize because there is a kanyampuku that they are going to get at the end of the day.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order! 

Will the hon. Deputy Minister explain what the word ‘kanyampuku’ means?


Mr Sichilima: Madam, this is a commission paid to the agents when they buy maize on behalf of the FRA. This is one way of fighting poverty in the rural areas.

Madam, I also want to comment on the issue of grain bags. The Government has advised farmers to use old grain bags that are still in a good condition before the new ones are distributed. This exercise will only last for a month.

Madam, on the issue of marketing, let me say that hon. Members should not compare what was done by the previous Government with what the current one has done. I think it is important to advise the Government to work on roads in the various districts to make it easy for maize transportation.

Finally, Madam, the Government and the FRA must be commended for a job well done in some of the areas. Therefore, I urge hon. Members to reject this Motion, but support the FRA in the work it is doing.

I thank you, Madam.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

The Deputy Minister for Southern Province (Mr Munkombwe): Madam Speaker, Sir, I want to thank you …


Mr Munkombwe: Madam Speaker, I want to thank you for the opportunity to commend the hon. Member of Parliament for Mapatizya for reminding us that we are moving, but should move faster. There is nothing wrong with that.

Madam Speaker, I speak from a dual perspective. I have been a long time producer. I went into commercial farming four months before independence. I was a peasant farmer for six years before that. 

Madam Speaker, there is no system that is devoid of problems. What is happening now is that the Zambian people have overproduced as a result of the good policies of this Government. We are now suffering from overproduction.


Mr Munkombwe: We must be commended. 

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!{mospagebreak}

Mr Munkombwe: Mr Speaker, the people of the Southern Province, for whom I speak, particularly, and Zambians in general have moved up from the beginner management to middle management level. The beginners use one bag of basal fertiliser and mix with one bag of top dressing fertiliser. They are able to get almost 40x50 kg bags from one lima. If you sell that at K20,000 per 50kg or K40,000 because you are a beginner, you are able to make a reasonable profit.

If you are in the middle management, Madam Speaker, Sir, …


Mr Munkombwe: Madam Speaker, you are able to use four pockets of fertiliser per hectare where two are for the base and the other two for the top. You can sell up to 50 x 100kg bags of maize. If you sell that, the cost would have been about K800,000 while the amount that you get is K5.4 million. You would make a reasonable profit. That is all due to the Government’s effort. Yes, we must be reminded, but only reminded to move faster.

Madam Speaker, from 1948 to 1958, there was the Grain Marketing Board in the Southern Province and only a limited number of people benefited from that. When I was producing in 1957, I was selling my maize in Monze where there was Owen Warren Muzuri. That time, other producers were paid thirty shillings while I was being paid thirty-seven and six. I used to transport my maize by lorry to Monze. That was then. The population of the country at that time was about three million. Therefore, the production was based on servicing the three million people. The population is now nearing 12 million and we are producing. 

The Zambian Government, through the MMD, has liberalised the agricultural sector. It is a fallacy to think that no maize will be sold. All maize will be sold at different prices. I know that the mover of this Motion is a producer. Somehow, whether he sells his maize at about K750 per kg, he will still make money. I am an expert in that subject. 

Madam Speaker, we are moving even in Dundumwezi. At the moment, we have our graders there working on the roads. I am in charge of the graders in the Southern Province. It is only a question of telling who …


Mr Munkombwe: I am in charge. For the hon. Member to say that our people are suffering is not correct. In Dundumwezi, I am proud to say that you cannot go to a village without seeing two to four Fuso trucks. How do they buy them if they are suffering? That is the greatest producing area in the Southern Province. So far, Kalomo District is leading because of the good policies. 

Madam, we are grateful to Hon. Sejani for reminding us. However, I think that he should be honest enough to say that when you remind somebody to move, and he is willing to move, you do not force him to run and threaten to do something if he refuses. The Government is moving. 

Madam Speaker, this Motion was almost spoiled by the seconder.


Mr Munkombwe: He started bringing in other issues when the mover was pleading with us and we accept that. However, that is how far we can go. Whether we say, “Yes, now we pass the Motion,” what for? We are moving already.


Mr Munkombwe: Please, understand this concept. We are already moving and making sufficient progress.

Hon. Government Member: Join us!

Mr Munkombwe: We take note of the Motion, but we reject it.

 I thank you, Madam

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

The Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives (Mr Mbewe): Madam Speaker, let me state, from the outset, that I reject the Motion for my own reasons. I also want to put it on record that, contrary to what the mover said about the Motion being non- political, I think that it is political.

Madam Speaker, it is political because, firstly, the mover of the Motion was at one time a Deputy Minister of Agriculture and the seconder a Minister of Agriculture. 

What happened in their time is common knowledge. There was hunger in Zambia and we were importing yellow maize from America.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Mbewe: All that happened because the mover and the seconder, who were in office at the time, had no heart for their people.


Mr Mbewe: Madam Speaker, agriculture marketing in this country had collapsed completely. It collapsed so much that one could smell hunger in the villages. This was because of the bad policies of the mover and the seconder of the Motion.


Mr Mbewe: Madam, when we came into power, things started to change. We are proud that we are going forward with real issues. I stand here a proud person because there is no hunger in Zambia. For as long as these good policies continue, there shall never be hunger in Zambia.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Mbewe: Madam Speaker, somehow, the Motion on the Floor is like opening a door which is already open. This is because the Government is already doing whatever has been indicated in the Motion. The issues raised in the Motion are also being done in the district where the mover of the Motion comes from. I was in Kalomo and I saw the kind of marketing that was going on there. I noticed that each 50 kg bag of maize was being sold at K32,000.00. I also saw a lot of trucks hauling maize from one point to the other.  As a result, I appreciated the partnerships at work in the maize buying exercise in Kalomo.

Madam Speaker, it is in Kalomo where the European Union (EU) has funded the rehabilitation of roads leading to the markets, but I am surprised to hear that the roads ...

Hon. Opposition Members: Not all roads!

Mr Mbewe: Yes, I agree that not all roads are being worked on, but as far as we, as a Government, are concerned, we are on the ground rehabilitating the roads through the Ministry of Agricultural and Co-operatives. Therefore, I take it that, talking about roads, particularly, in the district of the mover of the Motion, is just being malicious.

Madam Speaker, the mover of the Motion also talked about farmer groups. In Chadiza, where I come from, farmer groups are the ones that are buying maize. If one went around the country, they would notice that farmer groups and co-operative unions are working together with the FRA to purchase maize. 

I also want to comment on the issue of people sleeping at the satellite depots. Let me urge hon. Members not to politcise this issue because the Government wants to do its job in a professional manner. The Government will not buy maize which will not meet the standards that have been set by the FRA because, tomorrow, the same people (Opposition Members) will say that the Government is buying rotten maize.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Mbewe: This is what the Government is trying to guard against. Therefore, the Government will ensure that each satellite depot meets the standards set by the FRA. To prove that this is a working Government, the targeted number of farmers by the FRA has now increased from 500,000 to about 1,000,000. When that target is reached, even the satellite depots will also increase. 

Last year, on average, each district had seven depots, but, this year, the Government has increased the number to fifteen. This means that each district is going to have an average of fifteen depots. For those who feel that their places are not properly served by sheds, the mobile buying method has been introduced and this will also take place in the constituency of the mover of the Motion. 

Madam Speaker, as a Government, we will ensure that farmers in far-flung areas are also reached. I was in the Southern Province where I also visited places the hon. Member has never been to. I saw what is going on there and I can even explain to hon. Members what is happening there.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Mbewe: Madam Speaker, hon. Members are complaining about lack of sheds. The Government will ensure that its produce does not go to waste. As a result, it is constructing nine sheds and one of them is in the township of the mover of the Motion.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Mbewe: Therefore, he is talking about things that are happening even in his constituency. For example, it is in his district where the Government is constructing a shed which is going to store about ninety-eight metric tonnes of maize. What more does he need?

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Mbewe: The Government is not only building sheds in one district. It is also doing that countrywide. Sheds are being constructed in Mufumbwe, Chisamba, Kapiri-Mposhi, Serenje, and Petauke districts and a lot more. Shortly, the Government is going to advertise for the rehabilitation of silos. Those who are saying that maize marketing has come to a halt should reflect on their statements. Let them compare what was happening the time they were in the Government with what is happening now that we are in office. That is why I am saying that this issue is being politicised.

Madam Speaker, I do not want to pre-empt what my hon. Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives is going to say.

I thank you, Madam.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Ngoma (Sinda): Madam Speaker, I thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the Motion on the Floor of the House.

Madam Speaker, when we are debating in this House, we need to be aware that our debates are being broadcast countrywide.  Therefore, let us be very careful with what we say, as leaders of this country, because what we say is going to cause people to judge us harshly. 

Madam Speaker, this is a very serious Motion. 

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Ngoma: When I looked at this Motion, I noticed that it was a very good Motion although it may appear offensive to some hon. Members of Parliament because of the manner in which it was moved. Everyone should bear in mind that this is a very important Motion.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Ngoma: Madam Speaker, at the moment, what is obtaining in the countryside is very chaotic. I want to speak with conviction. Allow me to quote, off the cuff, what the late President Levy Mwanawasa, SC., may his soul rest in peace, said about agriculture during his first Official Opening of Parliament:

“The agriculture sector is in a bad state. People are causing chaos in agriculture in order to survive on chaos.”

Madam Speaker, we can pick it up from that presidential speech. If there is any area where the MMD Government has not done very well, it is agriculture.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Hon. Government Members: Question!

Mr Ngoma: I can proudly say that there are schools being built and, probably, some roads are being worked on, but as far as agriculture is concerned, things are not very fine.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Ngoma: Madam Speaker, the late President Mwanawasa, SC. further stated that the FRA was going to be dissolved and a grain marketing board be introduced.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Ngoma: We were supposed to have debated a Bill on the Floor of this House to correct that problem.

Madam Speaker, allow me to say that the chaos which is obtaining, right now, has brought about the constraints which the mover of the Motion is talking about. The Motion has stated clearly that this House has urged the Government to urgently address the perennial constraints that the agricultural marketing system is facing in order to enhance food security in the country. What is wrong with that? Yes, there are perennial problems in the agriculture marketing system. 

Madam Speaker, you have always said that 60 to 70 per cent of the hon. Members of Parliament come from rural areas. Therefore, we can also safely say that things are rosy if an hon. Member does not come from the village. Things are bad there. 

Madam Speaker, what are these perennial constraints that this Motion is trying to address? One example of these constraints is the lack of funding. There is inadequate funding to the FRA. I want to thank the Government for the bumper harvest and I give it a pat on the back for that. There should be proper mechanisms of ensuring that the bumper harvest translates into people having adequate resources in their pockets.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Ngoma: That is what is important. I was not a very good farmer, but, today, as I am speaking, I have produced over 1,000 bags of maize.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Ngoma: Madam Speaker, even as an hon. Member of Parliament, it is very difficult to find those private buyers you are talking about. The private buyers are there basically to make a huge profit. The millers you are talking about are there to abuse the farmers. The cost of production of maize is very high in this country. How do they go to farmers and offer a price of K30,000 per 50 kg bag of maize? Is that economical? 

Hon. Opposition Members: No!

Mr Ngoma: Madam Speaker, a prudent Government as this one should put in place a policy to standardise the price a 50 kg bag of maize at K65,000 for. Documents should be there to condemn people who are buying at K32,000 or K30,000 per bag. That is what a reasonable government should do. It should not say that the private sector should move in and buy the maize at whatever cost they want. That is not acceptable.

Madam Speaker, the hon. Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives is a well vested hon. Member because he knows a lot about agriculture and understanding its depth is counting his fingers. He knows his way around the agriculture sector. I believe that, even deep down his heart, he knows that things are not alright. We have to address the constraints such as the late entrance of the FRA into the market and lack of funding. These are cardinal issues that need to be addressed.

Madam Speaker, the hon. Member for Chongwe was talking about the cost of production. I am aware that, every year, this MMD Government has been scoring bumper harvests. The harvest has been increasing, every year, and that is a fact. 
Madam Speaker, two years ago, Zimbabwe, which is in a critical state, wanted to purchase maize from Zambia and it even made a very good order. The Zimbabwean Government wanted the Zambian Government to sell it maize. At that time, the cost of the maize in Zambia was too high and, at the end of the day, Zimbabwe opted to buy from Kenya. The issue is that the cost of production of our maize is very high. So, that issue has to be addressed. I do not think we are being fair to the Zambian people if we just brush this Motion aside and say it is a bad one. If this Government wants to stay in power, it must acknowledge that more work has to be done in this area. 

Madam Speaker, before I came to this House, today, some colleagues from your right side told me, “This is a very good Motion, Ngoma, because you are not part of us, help us to debate.” Yes, I have helped you, …


Mr Ngoma: … but I expect you, as leaders, to be factual. You should put things straight and in black and white. When you do that, you are going to help this country a lot. You should not pretend that all is well. Things are not alright in this country as far as agriculture is concerned. This is a very good Motion. The Ministry of Finance and National Planning should try and see where it can find the money to buy the empty grain bags and give them to the farmers. If the farmers want to export maize, the Government should provide the mechanisms for them to do so. The Government should also condemn those leaders who are exploiting the farmers. In so doing, this country will be moved forward. 

Madam Speaker, when the Government sorts out the problems that the farmers are facing, it will guarantee its future stay in power. This is what we want. I do not stand here to politic. I was elected to speak out from the depth of my heart and I look at where I come from. I do not mean to move Zambia forward the UPND way.  I mean to move Zambia forward in a way that shows leadership.

Madam Speaker, with those few words, I thank you.


Mr Mwamba (Kasama Central): Madam Speaker, thank you for allowing me to contribute to this important Motion on the Floor. First and foremost, I would like to thank the Government for the bumper harvest which has been achieved this year as it was not the case the past few years. 

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Mwamba: Madam Speaker, I want to start by stating what the hon. Minister said earlier on. The hon. Minister has been bragging of having advertised for the rehabilitation of silos. How do you start by advertising for the rehabilitation of silos when people are stuck with maize? Some people have not been paid for their maize while others have nowhere to sell it. The Government has now started talking about the private sector buying maize that is in certain areas. The maize which is actually across the country cannot be bought by the private sector on its own. It is practically impossible because of the financial capacity which the private sector has. 

Madam Speaker, the maize marketing system has flaws and the FRA is a major contributor to this. Despite it having known that there would be a bumper harvest, this year, it did not request for adequate funding from the Government. Had it done so, I am sure the Government would have, probably, addressed the issue.

Madam Speaker, another issue is that of empty grain bags, which, definitely, the FRA should have known about. It knew that this year’s harvest would be vast. So, why did it not plan for it? I am also a small-scale farmer, but I cannot obtain empty grain bags from the FRA. It is, probably, because, in the past, there has been a lot of corruption in the way empty grain bags have been procured. I am sure for things to reach this point, there was no one who was willing to part away with a cent. 

Madam Speaker, the official responsible for purchasing the empty grain bags saw that, this time around, he could not benefit from the transaction. Empty grain bags are very cheap and their major source is China. Why did the Government not ask China to give us about 2,000,000 to 5,000,000 empty grain bags?  

We have been to China to ask for help in things which are not even important. Already, I have received an invitation by the Chinese Government. What for? Why can they not translate that into empty grain bags?


Mr Mwamba: I think that the men and women on your right should get serious. Advise China to fund maize marketing. This year, we have a bumper harvest and what is required is the sourcing of funds. These funds are available, but they are being mismanaged by the men and women on your right, Madam Speaker. 

Madam Speaker, I admit that the distribution of inputs was very good. As a result, there is a bumper harvest. I am reliably informed that the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) is in operation. I am yet to clarify that with the hon. Minister whether it is fully operational or not. I hope that, next month, we will not hear about the importation of fertiliser through certain agents because that will be a drain. Instead of importing fertiliser, which we are now able to produce locally, that money should be channelled into maize marketing. 

Madam Speaker, I thank you. 

Hon. PF Members: Hear, hear!

The Chief Whip (Mr Mwaanga): Madam Speaker, I thank you for giving me an opportunity to make a brief contribution to the Motion on the Floor. I would like to congratulate Hon. Sejani, the Member of Parliament for Mapatizya, for the energetic manner in which he introduced this Motion. His debate reminded me of the time he debated from this side of the House. I wish he was still here because that is the kind of energy that we miss from him from time to time. 

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Mwaanga: Madam Speaker, I also wish to thank the seconder, Hon. Dr Scott, the Member of Parliament for Lusaka Central, for the manner in which he seconded this Motion. I do not want to go into the issue he raised about the Promissory Notes and its history because he knows very well that I was in Cabinet with him, at the time, and we both know how it came about. I was not the cause of it because I was not Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries then, but was Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries …


Mr Mwaanga: …and was subsequently replaced by Hon. Zukas, who made an effort to tidy up the mess which he had left behind.


Mr Mwaanga: Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate the Zambian farmers for producing a bumper harvest this year. This is something we have never seen before in the history of this country. 

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Mwaanga: Last year, our maize production was 1.9million tonnes. This year, it is 2.8 million tonnes. Never in the history of this country has this level of maize production ever been achieved. Our farmers deserve to be congratulated warmly for this achievement. They were responding to the very favourable policies which this Government has put in place …

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Mwaanga: …to enhance food security in the country. 

Madam Speaker, I heard it said that when perceived problems within the FRA were going on regarding maize purchasing, the Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives was not in the House. I wish to state that the Government was in the House. When other hon. Ministers are in the House it means that the Government is here. The Government was and is in-charge of all the issues which were current in the nation at that time. 

Madam Speaker, I am also aware, as the person responsible for signing authorities for hon. Members of Parliament, that the Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives was actually in Southern Province. He was visiting, of all the districts, Kalomo included, to look at some of the issues which have been raised during this current debate. 

Madam Speaker, on this side of the House, we have often said that we are prepared to support progressive Motions that bring issues which we are not already addressing. Motions which contain an element of confrontation, ridicule, malice, or an element where there is no recognition of the efforts that the Government is making to address the issues, are a source of worry. It is worrying because you cannot push an open door. If the door is already open, any attempt to open it is futile because obviously you will fall down. 


Mr Mwaanga: Madam Speaker, this Government is already addressing the issues raised in the Motion. Most of these issues are administrative, structural and relate to infrastructure development, especially roads. The hon. Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives accompanied the President of the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) to Southern Province last week to look at these very issues and visit some of the farmers benefiting from IFAD resources. 

I do not believe that administrative issues require to be addressed through a Motion of this nature. I believe that they can be addressed in another more effective way which seeks to achieve results from the Government. I do not believe that a Motion of this nature can achieve the desired result. In a Motion of this nature it is not possible for the Government to give all the responses which are necessary and explain all the things which are going on in an effort to address the issues raised.  

Madam Speaker, indeed, there are challenges in the FRA which the Government is making an effort to address. There are issues which have to be resolved concerning funding. That responsibility lies with this House. These issues will continue to be addressed and discussed by the Government. 

My colleague, the hon. Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives will show that a lot of the issues which have been raised in the Motion are being attended to by the Government right now. Sometimes, we should abandon the appetite to reap political advantage out of Motions of this nature by sticking to real issues and approaching them in a correct way so that we achieve results for our people. 

Therefore, for the above reasons and for the reasons that the hon. Minister will outline, we, on this side of the House, will not be able to support this Motion because it addresses the very issues that we are already attending to, as a Government, and which we have been attending to for a very long time. We have been attending to these issues from the time both the mover and seconder of the Motion were on this side of the House as Members of the Government. 

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Mwaanga: Therefore, I want to urge the mover of the Motion to withdraw it.

 Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Mwaanga: Madam Speaker, I want to give the mover of the Motion an opportunity to withdraw it because this is an honourable way of avoiding confrontation. If the mover and the seconder of the Motion want confrontation, let them go ahead and put this Motion to a vote, but we, on this side of the House too, will stoutly oppose it.

 I thank you, Madam Speaker.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

The Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives (Mr Daka): Madam Speaker, I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to comment on this important Motion.

Madam Speaker, I wish to make a statement to this august House on the request by the Private Member’s Motion on food security regarding measures the Government has put in place to tackle what is so called perennial constraints affecting agriculture and national food security.

Madam Speaker, before I go into detail regarding the various strategies the Government has put in place, permit, me to comment on the current 2010/11 Marketing Season performance in terms of food security.

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the mover and also the seconder of the Motion, who have been former hon. Minister and Deputy Minister, respectively, in agriculture. I want to inform the House that the country produced a total of 2.79 million metric tonnes of maize during the 2009/10 Agriculture Season while 298,000 metric tonnes were a carried over stock from the previous season. In total, this translates to 3,094,146 metric tonnes of maize.

Madam Speaker, considering that the requirements in terms of staple food industrial needs post harvest losses and agriculture cross border trade during the current marketing season is estimated at 2,008,455 metric tonnes, the country still has a maize surplus of 1,085,709 metric tonnes available for export market. When other crops such as rice, wheat sorghum, millet, irish potatoes and cassava are taken into account, the surplus in maize equivalency is 1,556,368 metric tonnes.

Madam Speaker, this is a very commendable achievement by our farmers. It is also gratifying to note that more than 80 per cent of the maize has been produced by small- scale farmers. Therefore, I wish to request the House to join me in congratulating the farmers on this achievement.

 Hon. Members: Hear, hear!{mospagebreak}

Mr Daka: This is the biggest maize surplus ever produced in our nation. The surplus is evidence that Government policies are working. Furthermore, it is pleasing to note that there are also appreciable surpluses in crops such as wheat and cassava while sweet potatoes, irish, potatoes, sorghum and millet are just about enough to meet the national requirement.

Madam Speaker, the country had a deficit of 9,240 metric tonnes in the rice production. In order to improve the rice production, the Government will include the rice seed input under the Farmer Input Support Programme starting from 2010/11 Agriculture Season. About 3,000 farmers in the selected rice growing areas will be supported.

Madam Speaker, however, the achievement I have just stated in terms of general crop production notably maize surplus has created a serious challenge in terms of finding markets within and outside the country. This has been compounded by the huge surplus of maize from some of the countries within the region. While the Government is looking into the possibility of finding export market, the FRA has secured a loan facility of K700 billion from a consortium of banks for crop purchases. In addition to this amount, the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning has also released K50 billion from the K100 billion budget for crop purchases for 2010. The K100 billion can only purchase 40,000 metric tonnes of maize.

Madam Speaker, in terms of strategies to tackle the so-called perennial constraints affecting agriculture and national food security, my ministry has been working on various programmes cutting across fields of research, extension, marketing and post harvest management.

Madam Speaker, in the area of research, my ministry in co-operation with collaborating partners, is actively up-scaling the long term soil fertility improvement activities such as those found in conservation farming. Some of the proven benefits of conservation agriculture include soil fertility improvement and higher soil moisture retention leading consistent in yields while reducing on the required quantities for chemical fertiliser by farmers.

Madam Speaker, Zambia’s comparative advantage in terms of water availability is well documented. However, the problem has been lack of meaningful strategies to take advantage of our abundant water resource. I am glad to report that my ministry is seriously pursuing the fanalisation on the National Irrigation Plan (NIP) in collaboration with the African Development Bank. My ministry is working on bankable projects for possible funding intended to benefit all the categories of farmers.

Madam Speaker, another programme being promoted, especially in low rainfall areas where irrigation may not be feasible, is that of wetland agriculture. With large portions of wetlands scattered in parts of the country, my ministry is working on expanding the scope of wetlands agriculture for winter maize and vegetable production. Winter crop diversified production will not only mitigate seasonal food insecurity, but has also a great potential in wealth creation by improving farmers cash incomes from non-traditional crops.

Madam speaker, in addition to enhancing food production through wetlands utilisation, the Government is, currently, in the process of implementing cassava and rice strategies as a way of broadening the staple food base. The promotion of the two crops will go a long way to complementing Zambia’s food security in times of maize crop deficits.

Madam Speaker, one of the problematic areas in the agricultural sector is that of assured markets especially in seasons of bumper harvest like the current season. Basic economic theory dictates that farmers will tend to get relatively lower per unit price for their hard earned crop when the crop is much more than the buyers require.

However, from a food security point of view, there have been some notable advantages to the consumers. Following increased supply of major crops such as maize, sorghum, cassava and the reported surpluses in all these crops on the market combined with the falling prices of these commodities, many households and communities are guaranteed of improved access to food. 

Madam Speaker, at the national level, for the 2010/11 Marketing Season, FRA is expected to buy more 300,000 metric tonnes of maize, 2,000 metric tonnes of rice and 1,000 metric tonnes of cassava.

Madam Speaker, apart from the domestic market, the Government has sent word to International Trade Centre (ITC), World Food Programme (WFP), the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regions with a view to finding markets for our maize. My ministry has, in particular, communicated with management of the alliance for commodity trade in East and Southern African (ACTESA) to seek their assistance in finding good export markets for our excess maize grain.

Therefore, I am appealing to our private sector to follow up on the initiatives that Government has initiated. So far, the information that we have is that the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Kenya and Sudan have maize deficits.

Madam Speaker, the maize market avenues for farmers in the medium and long term should come from diversified value addition. I will be working with my counterpart at the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry to promote diversified value addition from only mealie-meal to other marketable maize by-products, currently, being imported from South Africa.

Madam, a visit at any local outlets or supermarkets such as Spar, Shoprite and, recently, Pick-n-Pay, will show a large variety of processed foods such as cornflakes and starch to mention, but a few. Producing cornflakes does not require complicated processing technology. I, therefore, see no reason Zambia should continue to feed on imported cornflakes when such foods can easily be produced from Zambian-grown non-genetically modified organisms (GMO) maize.

Madam Speaker, in terms of national food reserve and post-harvest management, the Government is, currently, implementing a long-term programme to increase the capacity of Government storage facilities.

From its inception in 1996, the FRA inherited a number of agricultural storage facilities and grain handling equipment. The storage facilities include 447 storage sheds with a total capacity of 1,104,500 metric tonnes, six grain silos with a total capacity of 112,500 metric tonnes and 236 hard standings with a total storage capacity of 789,800 metric tonnes.

Over the years, a number of these facilities have deteriorated to levels where they can no longer keep food reserves safely. The country has, in the past, experienced post-harvest losses ranging from 10 to 20 per cent.

Madam Speaker, from our own resources generated internally and with financing from the People’s Republic of China, the agency has embarked on a programme to rehabilitate some storage facilities and acquired additional storage facilities. The projects include the recently rehabilitated Mungwi Grain Silo in Lusaka and six sheds that were acquired in the Northern Province which added to 15,000 and 27,000 metric tonnes of usable storage space. Currently, under a Chinese concessional loan, the construction of new sheds in Chambeshi, Chisamba, Kapiri Mposhi, Kalomo, Mbala, Mufumbwe, Petauke and Serenje is going on.

Once the construction is completed, it will give an additional storage space of about 90,000 metric tonnes. The current total usable storage capacity is about 1.3 million metric tonnes. With the current upgrades, rehabilitation and construction, it is the intention of the Government to bring the usable storage capacity under the FRA to 2 million metric tonnes.

Madam Speaker, the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives is also working on amending the Agricultural Credit Act to incorporate the warehouse receipt system which can be used to borrow funds from financial institutions. This will augment the efforts of other Government and private sector lending programmes and institutions in the provision of lending to the agriculture sector.

In addition, the Government is finalising the consultative process on both the introduction of the Agricultural Marketing Act which will provide guidelines and regulations in the marketing of agricultural commodities and the possible creation of a public-private partner (PPP) marketing institution. Once these are in place, it is expected that, in the agriculture sector, the issues that have been reduced.

Madam Speaker, with some of the above highlighted programmes, I am confident that the Government is on the right course in mitigating the perennial constraints affecting Zambia’s agriculture and national food security.

There have been issues which have been raised about the target of 90,000 metric tonnes. These are issues that can be addressed administratively. 

The FRA announced that farmers who have their own bags can deliver the maize in their own bags. Within the month of August, we will ensure that all the bags are given out to farmers. The FRA, on behalf of Government, will buy most of the maize that has been produced.

Madam Speaker, I wish to state here that this Government is performing and on record that it is working for the people of Zambia. A testimony is there that it does deliver.

Amongst the few issues that were mentioned, there was one regarding the price of inputs being too high in the region. However, I wish to mention here that the Government will ensure that a farmer grows maize that is required as food security. If we pay less to these farmers, then they will not be encouraged to continue producing maize. We must create an environment of wealth creation and reach an equilibrium where a farmer benefits.

However, in a liberalised market, it is not the duty of the Government to police everybody. The market players must go out there. The Government has put a price of K65,000 per 50 kg bag. This is the highest in the region. All we want is to give encouragement to our peasant farmers so that, next year, they do not shun growing the crop that we need most. We must also realise that this gain is not only for one person, but it is collective and there to benefit everyone, including the peasant farmers. That is why the Government has put in place the Farmers’ Input Support Programme (FISP).

As earlier mentioned, the FISP beneficiaries were only 250,000. Last season, the number came to 500,000. This coming season, we envisage it to come to almost a million or 890,000 people. We are creating economies of scale and a critical mass that will produce food security.

It was not a crime for the Government to have given impetus for higher production and neither was it a sin for the Government to have created this environment to ensure that there was food security. However, what is there to do now is to find a market. The World Food Programme (WFP) is a sure market because it wants to buy this crop for deficit areas and refugees elsewhere.

Madam Speaker, we can talk government to government, but it is guaranteed that if we give our neighbours the maize, they will pay us on time. We have advertised the surplus of 160,000 metric tonnes in the national and international papers for possible exports of maize from the previous season that is in our silos. We are trying to export the last season’s maize.

Madam Speaker, the Government of Mr Rupiah Bwezani Banda is delivering.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Daka: Recently, I was in the Southern Province, in fact, to be specific, in Kalomo. The hon. Member for Kalomo Central said that I flew there, but I do not know which airfield I landed on. If he was watching his television, he should have seen what we are doing in the Southern Province.

At the moment, the FRA is paying out K22 billion to the farmers in the Southern Province and not anywhere else. We flagged off this market in the Southern Province and not anywhere else. It is absurd to hear hon. Members from that province not appreciating the effort this Government is making.


Mr Daka: It is absurd for one to believe that I was flying, and yet I was at his own village where there is no network because he has not provided it. We are supposed to work like a bicycle which has got three components, a chain, crank and free wheel. He is not there at all. He is an absentee landlord who does not know what is happening in his constituency.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Daka: Madam Speaker, I was with his chief, Chief Chikanta, today, and he was very happy about the programmes being done in the hon. Member’s constituency. He does not go there.


Mr Daka: That is why the hon. Member must reconsider whether he belongs to one family or has no family to which he belongs.

Mr Muntanga Interjected.

Mr Daka: Madam Speaker, most of the points have been covered and, as such, I just want to thank all those who contributed to the debate on the Motion. However, before I end my debate, I would like to say that this Motion is controversial in the sense that the word ‘perennial’ used is not an issue with this Government. For instance, today, we concluded a deal with Standard Chartered of the United Kingdom consortium of banks to finance the procurement of maize.

Madam Speaker, it is not the Government alone which should be doing these things, but the private sector is also invited to tender for the maize so that it creates wealth for its livelihood. The Government has given a good impetus for the production of maize.

I thank you, Madam Speaker.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sejani: Madam Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to wind up this very important Motion.

Firstly, I would like to thank the hon. Members who have supported the Motion and those who have identified that this is a serious Motion devoid of politics. 

Hon. UPND Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sejani: Madam Speaker, I am intrigued by the response of this Government because it has clearly diverted the attention and misrepresented the import of this Motion. This Motion is not talking about agricultural production, but about agricultural marketing, that is how to handle what you have produced. Clearly, we do not seem to be living in the same country because we are seeing problems whilst the Government is not. Sadly, a spirited attempt has been made to politicise an innocent Motion.

Madam Speaker, if we wanted to be political, we would have done so because we have the capacity and we do not need to advertise that. Our capacity to cause political injury is unlimited …


Mr Sejani: Madam Speaker, the essence of this Motion is to point out the shortcomings in agricultural marketing, but the Government has gone on an adventure reminding us about how we were once ministers. I agree that we were ministers, but if our record at the ministry is what is helping them to improve their fortunes, please, so be it. This Motion is not about history, but the future of this country. One hon. Member was putting words in my mouth by saying that I said NAMBOARD was a good thing. That is mischief because I did not say anything about NAMBOARD.

Now I would like to confirm that NAMBOARD was a good thing until it was destroyed by a well-known gentleman.

Hon. UPND Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sejani: Madam Speaker, this Motion is not about mischief, but the problems that are experienced by our farmers in the field …


Madam Deputy Speaker: Order! Could the hon. Member wind up debate?

Mr Sejani: Madam Speaker, I am sad that this Government is not seeing the problems in agricultural marketing. I wish to tell Hon. Mwaanga that I am not withdrawing this Motion because I am not in the habit of doing that. If I withdraw this Motion, it will mean that all is well. I will leave the judgement of what is happening in the field to posterity. If what we are seeing is not really happening, then God will judge us accordingly.


Mr Sejani: Madam Speaker, I am not going to withdraw this Motion because I am not afraid of the outcome. If there are hon. Members who want to vote against it, they are at liberty to do so although they have created a platform for ideas to flow. What is intriguing is that the Government has admitted all the problems, but are denying the fact that this Motion is correct. I can only say you will reap what you are sowing.

I thank you, Madam Speaker.

Question that this House urges the Government to address constraints in the Agricultural Marketing System put and negatived.


Mr Hachipuka (Mbabala): Madam Speaker, I beg to move that this House do adopt the Fourth Report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Report of the Auditor-General for 2007, on the Accounts of Parastatal Bodies for the Fourth Session of the Tenth National Assembly laid on the Table of the House on 26th July, 2010.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Is the Motion seconded?

Mr Mwenya (Nkana): I beg to second the Motion, Madam Speaker.

Mr Hachipuka: Madam Speaker, your Committee, in accordance with its function as provided for in the National Assembly Standing Orders, examined in detail the Report of the Auditor-General for 2007 on the Accounts of Parastatal Bodies.

Madam Speaker, as the hon. Members of this august House may have observed, there were eleven institutions that were dealt with in the report. This does not mean that they were the only institutions audited during the period under review. Many more institutions were audited. However, others cleared the issues that the auditors raised. The eleven were, therefore, the only ones that had outstanding issues which appeared in the audit report.

Madam Speaker, each time an audit report on parastatals is produced, previous public accounts committees have commented on the weak supervisory regime in place. The immediate supervising Ministries, in a number of cases, are not actively providing the necessary oversight roles of these institutions. This is further worsened by their failure to appoint board members on time. Weak supervision of these institutions has led to a number of irregularities as is highlighted in the audit report. These include:

(i)    Failure to produce financial statements. 

of the reported eleven institutions, only six had audited financial statements, while five did not have any. The worst backlog was with the Public Service Pension Fund, which, at the time of audit, had not prepared financial statements for the period 2004 to 2007. This is unacceptable from an institution that has a board of directors and is supervised by Cabinet Office under the Public Service Management Division. The Public Service Pension Fund has, however, prepared the financial statements for 2004, 2005 and 2006 and expects to have the statements for 2007 to 2009 in place by the end of 2010,

(ii)     lack of and poor credit/debtor policies. With the exception of the Patents and Companies Registration Office (PACRO), all other institutions had huge accumulated amounts in receivables and payables for services provided.

While some of the companies may have no direct control of the debtors, particularly when this involves the Government, others have adequate powers to enforce the law and control amounts owed.

Others, such as the Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ) and the National Savings and Credit Bank (NSCB) continued to have administrative lapses in the way they managed their loan books. For example, during the period under review, the DBZ disbursed loans amounting to K23 billion without security perfection. Similarly, the NSCB disbursed loans without security perfection in the sum of K796 million. These issues were due to administrative lapses; and

(iii)     numerous other management weaknesses such as:

(a)    poor management of stores;

(b)    misapplication of funds;

(c)    poor management of salaries, advances and loans;

(d)    delayed and non retirement of imprest;

(e)     payments made that are not in line with approved conditions of service;

(f)     irregular sale of company assets;

(g)    poor investment decisions;

(h)    wasteful expenditure; and
(i)    failure to carryout actual valuations.

The revelation by the Secretary to the Treasury that the Ministry of Finance and National Planning is working on legislation that will lead to the creation of an independent unit that will be providing oversight on quasi-Government institutions and address most of the above irregularities is a welcome development.

Your Committee, therefore, urges the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning to ensure that this process is not delayed.

Madam Speaker, allow me to make a few comments on profitability and liquidity of the institutions. It was difficult to assess the profitability of some of the institutions because of their failure to prepare financial statements. Of the six that had prepared financial statements, MOFED Tanzania and the Workers Compensation Fund Control Board consistently recorded profits or surpluses. As the case may be, during the period 2003 to 2007, Indeni Petroleum Refinery did record a profit in 2007 and 2009. The DBZ and NSCB recorded losses in 2005 and 2006 consecutively. 

The NSCB, however, recorded improvements in 2007 and 2008, with profits of K6.3 billion and K7.4 billion respectively. The National College for Management and Development Studies, now Mulungushi University, recorded a surplus in 2006, from consecutive deficits in the period 2003 to 2005.

Mr Speaker, the survival of any institution depends on the ability to generate enough cash to meet its obligations even if it is not able to make a profit or have a surplus in the short-term. The liquidity positions of the institutions were generally poor, even for those that did not have financial statements in place. This was easy to determine because of their failure to meet statutory obligations such as Pay as You Earn (PAYE) and employer’s pension contributions. The DBZ, MOFED Tanzania and Worker’s Compensation Fund Control Board were the only three institutions that were substantially liquid in the period under review.

An institution that seriously needs immediate intervention by the Government is the National Housing Authority (NHA). The authority has a monthly financing deficit of K1.5 billion. If this deficit is not addressed soon, it will experience serious operational problems.

Madam Speaker, on the question of capitalisation, all institutions are under capitalised with the exception of the Worker’s Compensation Fund Control Board. While the Government has attempted to capitalise the NSCB, the DBZ remains grossly under capitalised by 98.9 per cent.

Institutions that urgently need capital injection, if they are to deliver adequate quality services, are water and sewerage companies. The problem extends beyond the Western and Lukanga Water and Sewerage companies. The shareholders of the water utility companies, the local authorities, do not have the capacity to marshal enough resources to recapitalise the companies. Therefore, the burden falls squarely on the shoulders of the Government to find a solution. Besides, provision of clean water is one of the key indicators of social advancement of a society.

Mr Speaker, let me conclude by highlighting another important issue that was mentioned in the Auditor-General’s Report which is the declining membership base of the Public Service Pension Fund. As of 2007, the membership base of the fund was 110,299, compared to a height of 116,200 in 2005.

Mr Speaker, in very simple language, the Public Service Pension Fund is, currently, a diminishing pension scheme. Addressing the problem requires opening up the scheme to new entrants. This will further involve the Ministry of Labour and Social Security exempting new entrants in the Public Service from contributing to the National Pension Scheme Authourity (NAPSA). This is a matter that requires the Government to come up with a clear position and this needs to be done soon.

I wish to thank you, Madam Speaker, and the Office of the Clerk for the guidance given and for services rendered to your Committee when scrutinising the report of the Auditor-General on the accounts of parastatal bodies. 

I further wish to thank the Secretary to the Treasury, controlling officers, members of the boards of directors and management teams who made submissions to your Committee. The management teams are trying their best, under the circumstances, as seen from their strategic plans, although most of them still are in draft form.

Madam Speaker, your Committee also wishes to express its gratitude to the Office of the Auditor-General and that of the Accountant-General for providing technical advice when considering submissions from witnesses.

Mr Speaker, I thank you.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Madam Deputy Speaker: Does the seconder wish to speak now or later?

Mr Mwenya: Now, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker, I beg to second the Motion urging the House to adopt the report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Report of the Auditor-General for 2007 on the accounts of parastatal bodies.

I wish to begin by stating that I fully support the views expressed by the Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee. In seconding the Motion, I will be more general though basing my arguments on issues that are contained in your Committee’s report.

Madam Speaker, Zambia is at crossroads with respect to parastatal organisations. On one hand, people would like to hold on to the remaining parastatals so that the nation can maximise economic benefits from the same but, on the other hand, when one critically examines the Auditor-General’s Report as your Committee did, one cannot ignore the fact that these institutions are better off in private hands. I do take cognisance of the fact that not all institutions that are mentioned in the report can be placed in private hands.

Business was suspended from 1815 hours until 1830 hours.


Mr Mwenya: Madam Speaker, when business was suspended I was about to say that the manner in which parastatals are left to operate leaves much to be desired and does not give confidence that, under the current regime, they can be turned around. With the Government clearly not in a position to provide immediate solutions and delays in appointing members of the board of directors, there are issues of undercapitalisation. In addition, the calibre of some of the chairpersons and members is not inspiring. 

Furthermore, the Government, itself, owes some of the institutions huge amounts in outstanding remittances and unsettled bills. At the same time, the institutions are not in a position to meet statutory obligations such as paying PAYE, thereby creating a vicious circle or a catch twenty-two situation.

Madam Speaker, some of the institutions that need urgent attention include water utility companies which are undercapitalised and unable to provide adequate quality services. Coupled with that, Government institutions owe these firms huge amounts in unsettled water and sewerage bills. Therefore, there is a need for the Government to address these issues. For a start, the Government should settle the outstanding bills so as to improve the liquidity position of these companies.

The NHA, despite the transfer of assets to it from the former Presidential Housing Initiative (PHI), Industrial Development Corporation (INDECO), Estates Development Company and Zambia Industrial and Mining Corporation (ZIMCO) Properties, is faced with a huge financing deficit of K1.5 billion per month. The Public Service Pension Fund is faced with an uncertain future following the reduction in the membership base.

May I advise that as the Government attends to the problem of new entrants to the Public Service Pension Fund, the solvency of NAPSA should not be compromised. At the same time, other pension schemes such as the Local Authority Superannuation Fund (LASF) should also be taken into account. This is a delicate matter and demands utmost diligence.

Madam Speaker, let me end by advising the hon. Ministers of Finance and National Planning and Communications and Transport to closely supervise MOFED Tanzania limited. This is a strategic investment for Zambia being a landlocked country. Other than that, the problems that were experienced with MOFED United Kingdom (UK) should not be allowed to get to MOFED Tanzania Limited.

Madam Speaker, I wish to thank you and the Office of the Clerk for supporting the work of your Committee throughout the session. I further wish to thank fellow hon. Members of the Committee for the mature manner in which they conducted their business. 

With these few remarks, I thank you. {mospagebreak}

Mr Lumba (Solwezi Central): Madam Speaker, I thank you for giving me an opportunity, if I may borrow the words of Major Chizhyuka, to add the humble of voice of the people of Solwezi Central to the debate on this Motion. Let me first thank the mover and seconder of the Motion for a job well done and your Committee for going through the report of the Auditor-General and bringing out the salient issues.

Madam, the report makes sad reading because I believe that the Government is supposed to be benefiting from parastatals by way of dividends and other means rather than it always pumping in money to sustain the operations of parastatals.

Madam Speaker, the Government has been doing well in certain instances to sustain the operations of some of the parastatals through cash injection.


Madam Deputy Speaker: Order, hon. Members! 

I must hear the debate of the hon. Member on the Floor and not you.

You may continue, please.

Mr Lumba: Madam Speaker, I was saying that the Government has been doing well in sustaining the operations of some parastatals by way of pumping in cash and other operational needs, but this has been at the expense of taxpayers and other developmental projects. I wonder how parastatals in other countries manage to perform better than those in this country. A good example is the company we have sold, the Zambia Telecommunications Company (ZAMTEL). Lap Green Networks is a parastatal which is well managed and, from what we have been told, it is going to run ZAMTEL better. So, why are our parastatals failing us?

Madam Speaker, I also wonder how come the personnel in former parastatals perform better under the management of other people other than those appointed by politicians. Why do they fail us when they are working in public companies? These are some of the concerns that came to mind and troubled me after going through the report of your Committee. We have had some well-meaning heads of parastatals, but have been removed in some unexplained circumstances. There are many examples of such cases.

Madam Speaker, why is it that the Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZANACO) is now performing well and the Government can get dividends from it? The same personnel have been maintained after this bank was privatised apart from a few executives who have been brought in. In other words, the entire structure of ZANACO remained the same. Its operations have not changed much, but now the Government can get dividends from ZANACO. 


Mr Lumba: Somebody is telling me that not even the name has changed.

Madam Speaker, I think that there is a bad mindset and abuse of office which results from, maybe, paying patronage to the appointing authority. I am worried about the decision- making in some of our parastatals. We have well-qualified and well-meaning people in some parastatals, but going by the report of the Auditor-General, one has cause to wonder who is managing our parastatals. There are issues of corporate governance which are mentioned in this report. Corporate governance includes parent ministries, boards, senior managers and entire institutional structures. So, with all these structures, one would think that there should be well-managed companies in place, but it is sad to see what is coming out of the Auditor-General’s Report.

Madam Speaker, I was surprised to hear that the DBZ was giving loans without insurance cover on the collateral given. I was, therefore, left wondering whether the people at the DBZ, who were managing these matters, were qualified bankers or it was a deliberate move.

Madam Speaker, so many questions go through one’s head as they wonder whether there is supervision of what goes on or how long it takes for people to be competent enough to handle these transactions. This report has covered a number of years to review these issues. Is there a relationship among the Government, board and the management? At what level or how long does it take for the Government to know what is going on?

Madam Speaker, after reading the report, I was amazed that MOFED Tanzania Limited lost its copper business to a Malawian company. Losing business that comes from Zambia raises a lot of questions. How can such a situation occur? Who is looking at all these things? Is there supervision? Are there reports being generated on how such companies are being run? A company can only be managed well if there is feedback or proper decision-making which can only be made if there are some internal control systems which are working.

Madam Speaker, one could have thought that institutions like the NHA could have performed better in reducing the shortage of accommodation in this country. However, we have been told, in the report, that the NHA needs about K1.5 billion per month for it to remain operational. Where is this money going to come from? Are they involved in a lucrative business which they should continue operating? My major concern starts with those who are supposed to govern these parastatals. 

Madam Speaker, ZAMTEL could not have been sold if it was performing well. If I may ask a question: Is privatisation the only way to get out of the problems of these parastatals? Do we not have any other better ways of sorting out the problems so that the Government remains with the largest percentage in these companies?

The other concern which I learnt from your report is that, according to the Banking Act, one entity is supposed to only have 25 per cent shares in a bank. After learning that, I started asking myself why we have let ZANACO have one shareholder with more than 25 per cent. Is there anyone concerned about that or we have deliberately let the law to be ignored when we have got a Government of laws and not of men in place?

Madam Speaker, I thank you.

Mrs Masebo: Madam Speaker, I just want to add my voice to this important report. My interest, in particular, is on the observation by your Committee that a number of the problems being faced by the parastatals are as a result of weak supervision from the parent ministries. As much as that may be true, I still want hon. Members here to reflect on that observation by your Committee. 

Madam Speaker, I also what the hon. Members to reflect on what happens whenever a Bill, which has a clause that states that the hon. Minister shall or may appoint two other members to sit on a particular board, is brought before this House. However, hon. Members on your left and the stakeholders that normally appear before your committees have always found that not to be the right way of doing things. They have always said that such a move is not good for co-operate governance. Some of us who have always had different views on this matter have always argued that, at the end of the day, when there is a problem in a parastatal that has been created to implement the function of a particular ministry, it is important for the parent ministry to have its hold on that institution. The ministry should put people on the board that will help achieve its statutory functions as a parent ministry.

Madam Speaker, today, we have a situation where your Committee is saying that, in fact, a number of these parastatals are not doing well because their parent ministries are not supervising them in an efficient manner. Some of the weaknesses in these parastatals are as a result of their boards not having someone from the parent ministry sitting on the them. When you look at the articles of association, for example, which created the water utilities in the country, it was later discovered that they had problems. At that point, the Government decided that there was a need for somebody from the Ministry of Local Government and Housing in the position of the Director responsible for infrastructure or, indeed, any other similar portfolio to sit on the boards of the water utilities so that the ministry could have an ear on the ground. 

Madam Speaker, you will note that one other problem that most of these parastatals are facing is that the boards will sit with their management and come to some conclusion with no reference to where the resources are to come from. When the parent ministry wants to intervene, it simply says that you cannot increase your salaries or do whatever you want to do because there are no resources. At that point, the board will not be happy and will call that as interference from the relevant ministry. I think we need to be very clear all of us on exactly what kind of bodies we want to create. My understanding is that when a department of a ministry or a ministry decides to create a statutory body or parastatal, it should look at the money issue. Most of these utility companies which have been created are statutory bodies including local authorities themselves. However, it is important to support the relevant parent ministry when it seeks to have representation on the board because the functions being performed by the particular corporation directly affect that ministry. If the Zambia Electricity Supply Company (ZESCO) is not performing, we say that the hon. Minister of Energy and Water Development has failed. If the local authorities are not working, then we say that the hon. Minister of Local Government and Housing has failed because it is as clear as that. To that extent, five years later, when you ask the people to vote, they will vote for or against you on the basis of the performance of all the quasi-government institutions. I think it is important that we are all clear about this matter. There is need for the Executive to have a hand in the work of boards and agencies as it is mandated by the Constitution.

Madam Speaker, I noticed your Committee has commended the Treasury for working towards coming up with some legislation to help in the supervision of these parastatals. I want to say that as the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning comes up with this legislation, I think they will be need to recognise the two types of parastatals. We have similar parastatals like ZESCO and water utility which have been created the Government. You have to take into account the other pieces of legislation which govern the establishment of these statutory bodies so that there is no conflict because it is very easy to have conflicts in these institutions.

The other issue that I want to talk about is one which looks at unpaid statutory obligations. Most of our parastatals today although they increase the salaries of their workers, they do not pay their statutory obligations to the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), the Public Service Pension Fund or the Local Authority Superannuation Fund (LASF) or any other statutory bodies which they are supposed to pay to by law. However, it will show on the pay slip that they are deducting from a worker and that they have remitted the money to the statutory bodies, and yet in reality that is not correct. In some cases, this has caused workers in those parastatals to suffer when they go on retirement because when they go to these pension funds, they will find that there is no money for the pension funds to pay these people. I think this is a big problem which the Executive should look at. In my view, it is not right for a parastatal or board to be approving an increment of salaries of workers when they are not able to pay their statutory obligations to the workers. 

In fact, the people that suffer are not the chief executives, but the ordinary workers in the company. It is total misconduct for a chief executive to pretend to be remitting funds to a pension fund when in fact, he or she not. To make matters worse, some of these boards continue to increase the allowances for the members when they fail to pay the basic salaries of the workers on time.

My next point relates to the Government’s indebtedness to parastatals. The Government needs to look at the issue of paying for services it gets from the parastatals. Most of our parastatals in Zambia have collapsed on account of the inability by the owners of the parastatals to pay bills for services such as water and electricity. The Government owes a lot of money to most parastatal institutions. 

Madam Speaker, we decide to sell parastatal institutions when we feel that they do not have money. I think discipline must not only be expected of the boards, but also of the owners of the institutions. If the owners of the company are careless and keep drawing money without the guidance of the accountant, a company can collapse. 

If you look at some of these institutions, you will find that the biggest debtor is the owner of the company. We need to ensure that we put in place a plan for paying back the debts. 

Madam Speaker, I know that the Government has, over the years, been trying to settle some of the outstanding debt that it owes to the parastatals, but the problem that I see is that even as we keep dismantling the debt, we still continue to create some more. We can avoid this by employing professional management which will ensure that rules apply to all clients. If we must pay for water, then everyone must do so. Even ministers must pay their bills for services such as water and electricity. 

We know from the Yellow Book that this money is budgeted for and, therefore, the  Government does not have an excuse for failing to pay for the services.

It is misconduct on the part of those in charge of paying bills not to do so when the money has been provided for in the budget for electricity, telephone and other bills. 

You find that the chief executives or the permanent secretaries responsible for paying rent for the minister are not doing so. The money is being used on other things. Consequently, the service companies collapse because of the Government failing to pay its debts as it feels that they are also part of the State.

That is why most parastatals have failed. It is this ‘niva Boma’ syndrome whereby people do not want to …


Mrs Masebo: Let me support what I am saying with an example. The police do not pay water bills because they think they are the Government. They tell the council not to give them problems because they are part of the Government.

Mr Lubinda: Eeh, especially Mulongoti.

Mrs Masebo: The police tell the council that if it disconnects their water supply, they will also impound its vehicles because they are not in good condition.


Mrs Masebo: There is that syndrome. There is need for us to ensure that we run the parastatals in a profitable manner. 

Madam Speaker, I was very surprised and disappointed when I heard the Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZANACO) announce its financial statement that revealed the profits it had made since the private investors took over the bank. It is only a few years ago that this company belonged to us and we never made any profit yet the Government kept pumping money into it. We have sold this bank to private investors who are making a lot of money overnight. This shows that something is wrong with us and the managers of the parastatal institutions. It is because of this tendency that most countries are going for privatisation.

Hon. Member: Tell us!

Mrs Masebo: When something nicha Boma, nobody cares for it. Maybe, it is better to leave things in private hands because once something is privately owned, a lot of effort is put in to ensure that it is not abused. This is why many countries have privatized their parastatal institutions.

Madam Speaker, the Ministry of Finance and National Planning has suggested that some of the parastatal companies should be privatised. I would like to support that idea, except for sectors such as the water sector. Privatisation of the water utilities is not advisable because their poor people who can not manage to pay high tariffs. Therefore, the Government always has to continue playing a key role in such sectors.

Yes, we can have the PPPs, but we have to be very careful because, at the level we are, as a country, we have certain sectors that should not be, wholeheartedly, privatised. Maybe the private sector can be allowed to compete so that the Government parastatals can know that other institutions can offer better services than them. In the end, it will make them work hard.

Madam Speaker, the last point …

Hon. Members: No, go on.

Mrs Masebo: My last point is on the issue of dividends. It makes me very sad to see that most of these companies are not earning dividends. Personally, I have always opposed the creation of agencies by the Government because I feel that they weaken it. In most case when these institutions are created, they are concerned about salaries and conditions of service. That is the first item before they even get to service delivery.

Madam Speaker, I feel that the Government must ensure that it plays its role in these agencies effectively. I think that the ministries responsible for some of these agencies must have a hold, and be fully involved, so that a number of problems can be sorted out. It is not right to leave everything to the board. My experience has shown me that, sometimes, boards and management collude. The ministry responsible might not be part of the syndicate, but it must oversee and stop a decision of the board if it is not in the interest of the country.

Madam Speaker, for me, this is an issue that the Government must take seriously. The last point is the issue of the …

Hon. Members: Aah!

Mrs Masebo: My last point is about the Public Service Pension Fund. The Chairperson of the Committee said that the membership of this fund was dwindling. We have been talking about this issue for the last ten years. Hon. Ministers of Labour and Social Security have been saying that the hon. Minister was going to exercise his powers, found in the Act, to improve the pension fund so as to allow new members to join the fund. Otherwise, it is going to collapse and, as I have always said, it will make the Government lose a lot of money.

Madam Speaker, the Local Authorites Superannuation Fund and the Public Service Pension Fund need to be supported. As for LASF, it was given some support recently when the Government gave it a bit of money. As a result, it is now doing well because of that support. However, its membership is also very small. These are issues that need to be worked on in a coordinated manner. I hope that the hon. Minister of Labour and Social Security who is always promising that something positive is coming will fulfill his promises. I hope that positive change will come before we leave this Parliament.

I thank you, Madam Speaker.

 The Deputy Minister of Finance and National Planning (Ms C. M. Kapwepwe): Madam Speaker, I thank you very much for according me the opportunity to contribute on the Motion on the floor of this House.

Madam Speaker, may I start by commending your Committee for producing the report. The Committee is led by the able Chairperson, the hon. Member of Parliament for Mbabala.

Madam Speaker, I will be very brief in my comments as my ministry had made considerable input through submissions to your Committee as contained in your report. Allow me to just touch a few specific issues.

Madam Speaker, on the issue of the Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ), I note that your Committee looked at its capitalisation. I wish to inform the House that the Government is actively engaged in discussing with the DBZ not only on the issue of its capitalisation, but also on its business model. Secondly, the current management has put in place measures to ensure that loan funds are not disbursed prior to securing security.

Madam Speaker, on Indeni Petroleum, following the withdrawal of Total Outre Mer, the Articles of Association of Indeni Petroleum have been amended to reflect the Government as the sole shareholder. This having been done, the Government will then move to constitute a new board of directors. As per interim measure provided for by the Articles of Association, some members of the previous board will continue in an interim capacity. We are looking at the long term direction of this company and we will issue a statement at an appropriate time.

Madam Speaker, as regards MOFED Ltd, as you may be aware, a new board has been constituted with specific terms of reference meant to drastically improve the operations of this company which we all know is very strategic and very important to this country.

Madam Speaker, with regard to the National Savings and Credit Bank (NATSAVE), the Government, in conjunction with the International Fund for Agriculture and Development, has injected funds to computerise the operations of the bank. This, in addition to other internal controls that have been put in place, will significantly improve the efficiency and operations of this bank. 

Madam Speaker, in general, the Government is taking measures to strengthen oversight through enhanced supervision and control of parastatals, including strengthening internal control environments and corporate governance which will address some of the issues raised by your Committee in terms of liquidity positions, failure to produce financial statements and many others that were raised by the mover of the Motion. 

Madam Speaker, as regards other parastatals, the Secretary to the Treasury has been instructed to ensure that all parastatals put in place adequate controls and good corporate governance practices which will promote accountability and transparency in the utilisation of these public resources.

Madam, just a brief reaction to some of the issues that have been raised, I think it is important to re-emphasise that what we need is a holistic approach to resolving these issues. I know that we can pick up one and isolate some problems and think that by fixing that, then the whole system will work. It is important to take a very broad view so that we look at what kind of parastatals we need and how they are positioned in business. The history of parastatals is that they were created in a very different business environment compared to where we are today. So, we have to sit and re-rationalise what kind of parastatals we need, do they have to have private sector participation and how much we want to continue in some of these areas. I think that will inform the kind of decisions that will come from the ministry. 

Madam Speaker, I can only just say that the Government is committed to continue to review its processes, legislation and policies to ensure that it strengthens the capacity of these parastatals so that they can make a meaningful contribution to the country’s economic development. 

With that said, may I, once again, thank the Committee for this report.

I thank you, Madam Speaker. 

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Hachipuka: Madam Speaker, listening to the hon. Deputy Minister of Finance and National Planning, reminds me of my old days when I was Managing Director. It was an excellent response. If I was outside Parliament, I would have cheered.


Mr Hachipuka: Madam Speaker, I also want to say that the speed at which this plan is implemented is absolutely important. I also want to thank the other debaters. I want to thank my sister, Hon. Masebo. She always spoke very well when she was a minister, but, now, the quantity of her speech, sometimes, confuses me.

I thank you, Madam Speaker.

Mrs Masebo pointed at Mr Hachipuka.



The Vice-President and Minister of Justice (Mr Kunda, SC.): Madam Speaker, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn.

Question put and agreed to.


The House adjourned at 1906 hours until 1430 on Thursday, 29th July, 2010.