Tuesday, 5th October, 2021

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Tuesday, 5th October, 2021


The House met at 1430 hours


[MADAM SPEAKER in the Chair]












Madam Speaker: Hon. Members, I wish to inform the House that the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Zambia National Group and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Zambia Branch will hold elections for their Executive Committees on Wednesday, 6th October, 2021, and Thursday, 7th October, 2021, respectively. The elections will be held at 1000 hours in the Amphitheatre on both days.  All hon. Members of Parliament are urged to be present during the elections, as the IPU and CPA are very important bodies that enable the Zambian Parliament to participate in global parliamentary affairs.


Hon. Members are advised to strictly adhere to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) restrictions to avert the spread of the virus.


I thank you.








The Minister of Finance and National Planning (Dr Musokotwane): Madam Speaker, I thank you for according me this opportunity to provide a status report on the economy. In a sense, I am providing an inception report upon which a baseline is being established. The United Party for National Development (UPND) Administration will build on it and push forward.


Madam Speaker, going forward, as part of the reforms that the country needs to undertake, I think we should institutionalise the practice of an outgoing Administration stating the status of the economy as it leaves and an incoming Administration indicating what it has found. This is the practice in many countries. The practice requires that the data set for making the report be comprehensive and accurate. The data sets need to be built up over time because, currently, they are not adequate in some critical areas. A good example of that is the data on employment.


Madam Speaker, my presentation this afternoon will highlight the macro-economic situation as we found it, subject, of course, to availability of data. I will also give some broad indications of the drive forward on the economy by the UPND Administration.


Madam Speaker, here is a summary of what I am going to state:


  1. our economy is faced with a number of challenges;
  2. growth has been sluggish;
  3. fiscal deficits have been persistently high and debt is unsustainable;
  4. inflation is in double digits;
  5. the exchange rate has been volatile and interest rates have remained high; and
  6. the combination of these challenges has brought about suffering among the people, and hence the people’s decision to change the Government.


Madam Speaker, this Administration stands by its campaign promises to reverse the suffering of the people and improve their lives. It is impossible to move away from those promises because then, it would have been purposeless to seek to govern this great Republic.


Madam Speaker, I start my remarks by saying something about the growth of the economy as measured by the changes in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from year to year. This is one of the critical measures of the economy, and it provides a quick view of the tempo of the economy, and is akin to that of a farmer measuring the yield in his farm in a particular year.


Madam Speaker, it is desirable that an economy grows at all times. In simple terms, this means that the production of goods and services must increase from one period to the next. In practical terms, farm produce must be higher than it was in the previous period. The same must happen in other goods and services, such as mining output, manufacturing and tourism. It is the expansion in production that increases the number of jobs, creates other business opportunities, generates money in the economy and increases the taxes paid so that our Government can spend more to support education and other social services.


Madam Speaker, over the decade up to 2021, the average growth in the national economy has been significantly lower than the growth in the decade before. It is for this reason that, on average, most citizens are poorer now than they were ten years ago. Of course, some may be richer due to different reasons, but those are in the minority.


Madam Speaker, in 2020, the economy contracted by 2.8 per cent, meaning that the production of goods and services became smaller than the levels attained in 2019. The contraction was on account of negative growth in manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, construction, and tourism sectors, largely due to supply-chain disruptions and a fall in demand. Regarding that significant economic decline, two major factors were at play. The first was the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic while the second and, perhaps, most serious factor was the blowing up of the debt crisis. Huge payments on external debt drained money out of the economy, leading to closure of many businesses due to the absence of demand. You see this when you visit our shopping malls.


Madam Speaker, the negative effects of COVID-19 in both Zambia and the rest of the world are well understood. The effects included disruption of productive forces and trading arrangements, loss of human capital through deaths and hospitalisations as well as unplanned heavy expenditures on COVID-19. It is noteworthy, though, that COVID-19 merely added to two pre-existing serious economic problems in the country. The first is the consequence of the excessive borrowing of the previous Government during the last ten years it was in power while the second is the old problem surrounding dependence on the key mining sector, which has, itself, not been managed well at all. Let me elaborate.


Madam Speaker, the national debt has grown uncontrollably since 2012. Year in and year out, the borrowing has been spiralling out of control even when, each year, there were promises made to manage national financial resources more prudently. The stock of the Central Government’s external debt, as at the end of June, 2021, stood at US$12.91 billion. However, as per convention, when we add the US$1.57 billion of debt contracted by parastatals and guaranteed by the Government to creditors, the total external debt, as at the end of June, 2021, stood at US$14.48 billion, which is almost US$15 billion.


Madam Speaker, the debt that I have highlighted so far is just the external component. There is also a substantial domestic debt, in other words, debts owed to people within Zambia, including arrears to suppliers, which the Government must deal with. This, of course, makes the situation worse. Very soon, I shall return to the House to provide a comprehensive statement on the national debt and measures being taken to deal with it, hopefully this week.


Madam Speaker, the growth of the external debt from less than US$2 billion in 2011 to its current sum of US$14.5 billion reflects one of the worst economic blunders during the last ten years, and has significantly contributed to the suffering we see today. For example, the Government was unable to hire key personnel like teachers, the exchange rate was depreciating fast and, of course, inflation has been rising.


Madam Speaker, let me elaborate on one of the effects of excessive borrowing, namely inflation.


Inflation is a continuing rise in the cost of consumer goods and services. You will recall that for many years, the inflation rate was well below 10 per cent per year. However, as at the end of August, 2021, it was recorded at 24.4 per cent, which is too high and way above the Government’s target then of 6 per cent to 8 per cent.


Madam Speaker, with increased inflation, lending rates at banks also increased to an average of 25.6 per cent in August, 2021. Other than inflation, the rise in lending rates was on account of elevated levels of borrowing by the Government. In the past decade, lending to the private sector has been shrinking for many years, as most of the credit was being taken up by the Government. This must change. Otherwise, the economic growth that we are looking for will be elusive.


Madam Speaker, for 2021, this year, preliminary estimates indicate that the economy grew by 0.5 per cent in the first quarter while growth registered at 8.1 per cent in the second quarter. Growth for the whole year is now projected to be just above 2 per cent which, of course, remains well below what is required. This is on the background of a general improvement in the economy of the world. It is also fair to add that from mid-2021, a number of international initiatives to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic permitted Zambia and other poor nations to suspend the servicing of some external debts. In other words, we are not servicing most of the debt as it falls due. This has allowed more money to remain in the country and, therefore, was bound to improve the spending power of citizens, and help to uplift the economy.


Madam Speaker, the overriding economic policy objective for 2022 and the medium term is to transform our economy, expand it and create employment opportunities. However, we must simultaneously deal with the problem of the excessive national debt, without which it will be impossible to normalise the economy, let alone bring about fundamental economic transformation for job and wealth creation.


Madam Speaker, as I said earlier, later this week, I shall return to give an update on the debt situation and what the Government is doing to resolve it. In the meantime, let me provide an idea of how the UPND Administration will address the issues of employment, especially for the youth, and economic wellbeing in general.


Madam Speaker, we have an opportunity of a life time to transform the economy into one that will grow strongly every year. From now onwards, the war cry will be:


Economic growth!


Economic growth!


Economic growth!


Everything we plan and talk about will be about a massive expansion in production, and this House has an important role to play in this war to get production up every year. Our debates, our speeches and our priorities in the Budget must all focus on growth and everything else that it takes to realise that dream. The expansion might be of output in the agricultural sector, manufacturing sector, tourist arrivals, goods transported and so on. Of course, our mines must produce more, since copper prices are forecast to remain very high in the next fifteen years. This is why, on many occasions, the UPND has expressed the intention to see copper production rise from less than 1 million tonnes now to 3 million tonnes in the next ten years. The money that this country will make from that expansion, given the high prevailing prices will make everybody in the economy smile.


Madam Speaker, it is the expansion I have referred to that will create jobs for the youths in the sectors concerned as well as indirect ones in related sectors. Expansion will generate more money for everyone, including the owners of production, the employees and even the Government through higher tax revenues. These aspirations are realistic and achievable. We have seen the same transformation take place during our life time in countries like Mauritius, Malaysia, Thailand and even Vietnam which, just a few decades ago, you will recall, was bombed to dust during the long civil war that the Vietnamese had. Thirty to forty years ago, those countries were poorer than Zambia. Today, they have advanced so much it is difficult to believe that the iPads we use in this Parliament are manufactured in the same Vietnam that was bombed to dust thirty or forty years. Colleagues, we can do the same and liberate our nation from poverty and shame.


Madam, towards the month-end, I shall come to this august House on the instruction of His Excellency the President and the Government to present the 2022 Budget. In that Budget, the first steps in this ambitious transformation journey will start. Those will be the first steps, but they will be defining steps of a journey of no return to poverty, but one to prosperity for all.


Madam Speaker, I thank you.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


Madam Speaker: Hon. Members, you are now free to ask questions on points of clarification on the ministerial statement issued by the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning.


Mr Kafwaya (Lunte): Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning for this very elaborate statement.


Hon. Minister, in your statement, you have indicated that external debts stand at US$12.9 billion, and that figure is consistent with the reports that were produced by your predecessor. For me, that indicates that there was no hiding of figures around the debt situation, as was suggested by some Opposition leaders then. Of course, you have escalated the debt amount to US$14 billion plus by adding to it the guarantees that the Government has provided for quasi-Government institutions. When the President addressed the media last week, he said that the Patriotic Front (PF) needed to be ashamed because it borrowed US$20 billion plus but, today, you are saying it is actually US$14 billion. Which number between the two is correct? 


Dr Musokotwane: Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Member for Lunte for this question.


Madam, in my statement, I said very clearly that later this week, I will come back to the House to address specifically the issue of the debts. In that statement, I shall be able to make statements on the question that he has raised.


Madam Speaker, I thank you.


Mr Sampa (Matero): Madam Speaker, I congratulate the hon. Minister on his appointment and on the well-delivered statement.


Hon. Minister, you mentioned that inflation is, indeed, a big problem not only in the Zambian economy, but also in the global economy, more so due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) challenges because the disease erodes disposable income. Could you confirm that a 20 per cent tax has been introduced on betting? As you know, most of our youths are now without jobs and rely on betting income to support their families. Given the high levels of inflation, the 20 per cent tax the Government is getting means that the youths lose half the time and, when they win, 20 per cent of their earnings go to the Government. Could you confirm that there is a 20 per cent tax on Bola Bet? Further, if it is there, is the Government willing to remove it?


Dr Musokotwane: Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Member for that question.


Madam, the House will agree with me that the question has veered off the topic we are discussing. I will be pleased to answer it if he files in a question using other channels that are available to hon. Members of Parliament in this House.


Madam Speaker, I thank you.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


Mr Mundubile (Mporokoso): Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister for this elaborate statement.


Hon. Minister, the New Dawn Government places economic transformation on top of its agenda. Now that you have all the information you needed in your possession, and in view of the campaign promises that were made, when do we expect to see a turnaround in the economy and the realisation of some of those promises, such as free education and a reduction in the prices of farming inputs?


Dr Musokotwane: Madam Speaker, I thank the Leader of Opposition for this question.


Madam Speaker, in the first instance, I think it is fair to say that we have already seen some positive changes take place in the sense that when this Government took over, the exchange rate was certainly not where it is today. So, that is a positive thing. You can imagine how much relief that is giving to the people. If you walk around the shops, you will see that the prices of some commodities have already begun to drop. Further, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) has indicated that inflation has come down.


As we move forward, Leader of the Opposition, you will see more steps that we will take to deal with the debt problem. Hopefully, by the end of this year, there will be clarity on what is going to happen and, hopefully, by the first quarter of next year, we will have an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme in place, which is going to provide more confidence, and we will then see more money come into the country for investment. Some of the things we are going to do do not even cost money. For example, just a friendly environment for the economy, avoiding deportation of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of companies for no good reasons and not fighting with investors the entire ten years instead of wooing them to come and establish companies in the country will, within a short time, bring more money coming into the country, and we will see that the wellbeing that the people are used to begin to come. The goodness is that when we, hopefully, resolve these issues in the mining sector so that we stop quarrelling and everybody focuses on mining, we are going to see a big change take place in this economy. So, hon. Member, just be a little patient. You will be very happy as an individual.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


Mr Michelo (Bweengwa): Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister for the statement.


Madam Speaker, it is an undisputable fact that the Patriotic Front (PF) was a Government of illegalities. I have been provoked on the issue of the debt that the country is in today.


I would like to find out from you, hon. Minister. Out of the total debt Zambia acquired, what are the percentage of the debt illegally acquired by the PF, and the percentage legally acquired? Are you in a position to tell us?


Madam Speaker: Hon. Member, the question was not clear. Maybe, you can ask again and be specific.


Mr Michelo: Madam Speaker, my question is: Out of the total debt the Zambian Government acquired in recent years, especially the PF Government, what is the total percentage of the debt acquired illegally and the percentage acquired legally by the PF regime?


Dr Musokotwane: Madam Speaker, I the hon. Member for Bweengwa.


Madam, we are still going through the list of debts because there are debts that are already in our books and those that were contracted, but are yet in the books because they have not yet been disbursed. We are still studying the latter and, if we are going to see something in the direction of what the hon. Member is asking about, of course, we will bring that to the attention of the public through this House. However, I also want to say that your question is important because our Constitution says very clearly that there is going to be a law that is going to be passed in this House that will give greater oversight power to Parliament in terms of authorising the contraction of debt. Parliament will have to say, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. So, the only thing that I can say is that the constitutionality of the debts contracted in the last ten years is open to debate because that law was not brought to this House to be passed.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr A. Mumba (Kantanshi): I thank you, hon. Minister, for this statement. You know that I have deep respect for you in terms of your credentials. I just want you to tell the nation something from your experience. When you look at the catalogue of events, starting from 2015, when copper prices and production plummeted, through to 2016, when electricity production was low, meaning that production could not take place in the manufacturing sector up to 2017. In 2018 and 2019, we got into the Coronavirus Diseases 2019 (COVID-19). You will agree with me as well that when you were Minister of Finance in 2010, you rebased our economy to the extent that –


Mr Nkombo: On a point of order, Madam Speaker.


Madam Speaker: A point of order is raised.


Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, I rise on a very serious point of order on my brother and friend, who should know by now, because he has been in Parliament long enough, that the rules of the House do not permit you to refer to an hon. Member’s previous –


Mr Mumba: Which Standing Order?


Madam Speaker: Order, hon. Minister –


Mr Nkombo: It is in the Members’ Handbook. I will get it for you just now, and you are not –


Mr Mumba: State the Standing Order.


Mr Nkombo: Are you running the show now or is he running it for you, Madam? I am referring to the Members’ Handbook, …




Madam Speaker: Order!


Mr Nkombo: … which states that an hon. Member of Parliament’s previous assignment or life should never be referred to. The hon. Member is referring to the way the hon. Minister performed his duties in 2010.


Mr Mumba: But, you do not know the background.


Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, are you going to allow a conversation between the hon. Member and me?


Mr Mumba: Because you have not issued the Standing Order.


Madam Speaker: Order, hon. Member for Kantanshi!


Just wait for the point of order to be raised then I will make the ruling.


Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, just to make an illustration, if in your previous life, you were selling scrap metal or railway lines and you become a Member of Parliament, no one is allowed to refer to how you did business before you came to this House. Is it, therefore, in order for the hon. Member to refer to what the hon. Minister of Finance said or how he discharged his duties in 2010 in reference to what is going on now in this House?


I seek your serious ruling.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


Madam Speaker: Hon. Members, the Standing Orders are very clear that when we are debating, we should not bring ourselves into the debate. So, please, as we debate or ask questions, let us make sure that we refer to, first of all, the ministerial statement that has been made very clearly. We should ask questions on the issues raised in it. Let us not refer to what happened previously or the conduct of hon. Members on what they did in discharging their duties in their previous responsibilities that they were given. So, hon. Member for Kantanshi, you can ask your question but, please, rephrase it.


Mr Mumba: Madam Speaker, –


Mr Kampyongo: On a point of order, Madam Speaker.


Madam Speaker: A point of order is raised.


Mr Kampyongo: Madam Speaker, I rise on a very serious point of order, citing Standing Order 131, which states as follows:


“(1)      A member who is of the opinion that the rules of procedure have been breached by another member may raise a Point of Order;


“(2)      A member who wishes to raise a Point of Order under paragraph (1) shall stand in his or her place and say, ‘On a Point of Order, Mr or Madam Speaker’, if in the House or ‘on a Point of Order, Mr or Madam Chairperson’ if in Committee of the Whole House.”


Madam Speaker, this is the guiding document that we have in transacting business here and, if we are going to ignore it, I do not know how we are going to manage our affairs here.


Madam Speaker, the hon. Member who has just raised a point of order did not even cite the breach that the hon. Member for Kantanshi has committed by referring to the ministry where the hon. Minister is coming from. Are we in order to ignore our rules and start fishing for rules that do not exist in this supreme document that we have for ourselves?


Madam Speaker, I seek your serious ruling and guidance.




Madam Speaker: Order!


In view of the fact that this point of order has been raised following another, I need to reserve my ruling so that we can make progress. The ruling on this point of order is reserved.


Mr Mumba: Madam Speaker, I think the hallmark of the hon. Minister’s presentation to us today has been information about the debt situation, and I was trying to remind the hon. Minister of the background to where we are coming from, how we got to COVID-19 and why it is important to not underplay what was happening. My question is: Had the previous Government rebased the economy in 2015 and 2020 in terms of the debt ratio against our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) like it was done in 2010, which is what I was referring to, and our debt to GDP ratio rose from K12 billion to K24 billion, which we are currently at, would our debt ratio have been much better for us to have a better fiscal space for future investment, as you expounded in your speech?


Dr Musokotwane: Madam Speaker, if I understand the hon. Member for Kantanshi well, he is referring to the fact that under normal situations, one of the indicators of debt becoming a problem is the ratio of debt to GDP. Therefore, he is implying that had the GDP been rebased or re-calibrated, perhaps, that ratio would have been corrected or made comfortable. My answer is that the debt to GDP ratio is only one, albeit most commonly-talked-about, ratio when discussing debt sustainability. There are other measures or indicators that must be looked at simultaneously, and one of them is the amount of tax revenue collected compared with the expenditure on debt servicing. The other factor is the amount of export revenue compared with amount of Dollars you are spending. All these factors combined will an idea of whether the debt is sustainable or not.


Madam Speaker, even if you assume that a recalibration of the economy would have corrected the GDP-to-debt ratio, there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the debt crisis would have still manifested. We see it in our daily lives. As I said, we were failing to hire teachers after they had been trained because there was no money. So, surely, that should tell you that there is something wrong here. You are trying to service all your debt, but you end up failing to give your children teachers. That shows that something has gone wrong. Similarly, when the exchange rate was escalating because we were sending Dollars out of the country to service debt every other day, it told you that there was something wrong. So, the answer is that irrespective of whether the rebasing would have been done or not, the very clear message is that the debt has become unsustainable.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Kampyongo (Shiwang’andu): Madam Speaker, I thank you for giving me this opportunity to pose a question to the hon. Minister of Home Affairs, oh, the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning.




Mr Nkombo: He misses the police!


Mr Kampyongo: Hon. Minister, taking you back to 2010, before we assumed office in 2011, the state of public infrastructure was deplorable. For example, potholes were found even in front of our doorsteps, and I recall the hon. Minister of Finance then trying to finance a project called Formula 1 in a desperate quest to repair the dilapidated infrastructure. Of course, it was unavoidable to borrow, and we are proud to have contracted the debt because we are able to show what the Government did.




Mr Kampyongo: We shall be referred to.


Mr Sing’ombe: What is your question?


Mr Kampyongo: My question is a rider on the question asked by the hon. Member for Lunte.


The hon. Minister stated on the Floor of this House that he is going to issue another statement. However, the figures that he has given us regarding the external debt are the same ones his predecessor brought to this august House. Can he be categorical as to whether, in the statement he is going to bring, we should expect to see different figures as far as the external debt is concerned.


Mr Nkombo: Wait for it to come. Why do you want it answered now?




Mr Kampyongo: Madam Speaker, I need to be protected.


Madam Speaker: Order!


Please, can we allow the hon. –


Mr Kampyongo: You are in Government now. You must tone down.


Madam Speaker: Hon. Member for Shiwang’andu, just resume your seat.


Mr Kampyongo resumed his seat.


Madam Speaker: Hon. Members, let us have order and maintain decorum in the House.


The questions have to be asked so that people of Zambia can get clarity on what the Government is doing. The hon. Member for Shiwang’andu is asking a question. Let us give him the opportunity to ask that question so that all of us can hear it, and for the hon. Minister to be able to answer it. With those running commentaries, I cannot appreciate the question. So, please, let us maintain order and decorum in the House.


Hon. Member for Shiwang’andu, continue with your question.


Mr Kampyongo: Hon. Minister, do we expect different figures? If that is the case, you should have waited instead of giving us the figures he has given us, the US$12.91 billion and US$14.48 billion.


Mr Mufalali: What is your question?


Mr Kampyongo: Do we expect new figures in the statement you are going to bring insofar as the external debt is concerned? I need a clear response on that one.


Dr Musokotwane: Madam Speaker, my answer is similar to the one I gave to my hon. Colleague from Lunte. He should just exercise a bit of patience; he will be able to ask that question, and we will answer him very well.


Madam Speaker, regarding infrastructure, yes, I do appreciate that there has been some infrastructure that has been constructed. However, there are also issues about the way the infrastructure was constructed. For example, the infrastructure was concentrated in a few parts of the country, but the debt is for all of us.


Hon. UPND Members: Hear, hear!


Mr Mufalali: Yes!


Dr Musokotwane: There is also the issue of the sustainability of infrastructure financing. This is because when you spend so much money on roads in Lusaka, for example, to the point where the Treasury is emptied because you have to service the debt – We are now lucky because the donors and others have said, “Hold on”. had they not said so, by now, maybe, even paying salaries would have been a problem. So, the question is: How sustainable was this manner of spending money on infrastructure when, already, some of the infrastructure, such as the Ring Road, is coming to pieces?


Hon. UPND Members: Yes!


Dr Musokotwane: Where were our colleagues going to get money, having exposed themselves everywhere, to repair these roads?


Mr Kapyanga: Tollgates!


Dr Musokotwane: Madam Speaker, finally, he says they are proud of the infrastructure that they financed. They are proud, not everybody.


Hon. UPND Members: Hear, hear!


Dr Musokotwane: There are people here …


Mr Nkombo: In Mazabuka.


Dr Musokotwane: … whose constituencies had high schools that were abandoned by the Patriotic Front (PF) at 60 per cent for ten years, …


Mr Fube: Question!


Dr Musokotwane: … yet they are proud to point at a building of security apparatus with eleven floors. When you see so many office buildings – We borrowed money, colleagues, to build offices while our children are learning in classrooms that look like kraals for cattle.


Mr Syakalima: Sure?


Mr Nkombo: Then you are proud.


Dr Musokotwane: Are they proud of that?




Dr Musokotwane: I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Hon. UPND Members: Hear, hear!


Mr Kapyanga (Mpika Central): Madam Speaker, could the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning comment on the allegations that the Patriotic Front (PF) Government printed extra money? Could he state how much was printed and when that money arrived in the country?


Dr Musokotwane: Madam Speaker, you will agree with me, again, that the question is way out of line with the discussion we are having this afternoon. Therefore, the hon. Member is at liberty to put in a question, and I am going to answer him.


I thank you, Madam.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


Mr Mung’andu (Chama South): Madam Speaker, the people of this country really want the economy to grow, and that is the reason I am appealing to the United Party for National Development (UPND) Government to ensure that the maize from the people of Chikwatembwe and Chifunda is bought through the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) so that they contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of this country. Can the hon. Minister clarify to this House and the people of this country whether he will be in a position to bring to the Floor of this House a statement on the debt that was contracted by the Patriotic Front (PF) Government and the expenditure thereof, that is to say, the areas on which the debt was spent. For example, if he states that a US$1 billion Eurobond was contracted by this country, can he outline how that money was spent in terms of revenue to the country and the corresponding expenditure? Is he in a position to come to this House with a statement on the debt position of this country so that the people of Zambia can judge as to whether the debt was used for the intended purpose?


Dr Musokotwane: Madam Speaker, this is an important question, but I request that the hon. Member puts in a separate question directed either to the hon. Minister of Agriculture or the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning, and we will be able to answer him.


Madam Speaker: Hon. Members, as you ask questions, make sure that you are specific and that you ask for clarifications on the ministerial statement that has been presented. If the question is too general, it will not be possible for the hon. Minister to answer it. In that case, you are advised to file in a specific question that the hon. Minster will be able answer.


Mr Mwambazi (Bwana Mkubwa): Madam Speaker, I come from the Copperbelt Province, and I heard the hon. Minister give statistics. One of the United Party for National Development’s (UPND’s) growth ideas is the expansion of copper production from 1 million tonnes to 3 million tonnes. Could the hon. Minster shed more light on that because such a leap from in production of copper requires a lot of capital injection. Where will the New Dawn Government source the funds needed to facilitate that increase in the production of copper, which will help the economy?


Dr Musokotwane: Madam Speaker, let me answer the question by specifically looking at his constituency.


Madam Speaker, about fifteen years ago, there were no mining activities of any sort in his constituency because they had ceased. At that point, I remember attending a World Bank-sponsored conference in Kitwe where the issue was that mining had come to an end in Zambia; that the mines were all going to close shortly thereafter, and we were there to discuss the alternatives. That situation was like that only because the environment that was prevailing did not permit or encourage those with money and ambition to look at Zambia and expand mining output. To shorten the long story, once the climate became favourable, I remember the very first operation that First Quantum Minerals made in Zambia was to recover copper from Bwana Mkubwa Mine, and activity started. From there, the company went on to open Kansanshi Mine in Solwezi and, thereafter, there have been other mines that opened, such as Lumwana Copper Mines. 


Madam Speaker, the sad the momentum towards encouraging private people with money to come and invest in the country ended during the rule of our colleagues in the PF. Before that, we had seen copper production rise from about 300,000 tonnes to 800,000 tonnes, and Bwana Mkubwa Mine was revised while Kansanshi and Lumwana mines were opened, and the preparations for the opening of Kalumbila Mine were made. Under the ten years of the PF Government, not a single mine was opened and even the existing mines were going down, as we know. So, if we shift away from the tracks of the PF colleagues in the last ten years and create an environment that attracts, rather than chases away, money, within ten years, that target will be attained because we are in discussions with some people.


Madam Speaker, look at the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Ten years ago, that country was only producing half of Zambia’s output of copper. Today, it produces nearly double the copper produced in Zambia. That is why we cry about the economic crisis here, yet we do not hear those cries in the DRC. So, it is possible. The goodness in this is that once we achieve our target – Can you imagine 3 million tonnes of copper? Zambia Railways will be very busy, and it will go back to the days of the 1960s and 1970s that we knew. The Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) will also be very busy, as will the trucks and the mechanics. So, the economy is going to boom just from copper, before we talk about other things. Therefore, hon. Member, let us work together and make sure that this dream is realised.


 Madam Speaker, I thank you


Ho. Government Members: Hear, hear!


Mr J. Chibuye (Roan): Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister the hon. Minister for this statement.


Madam Speaker, the hon. Minister said that today, the production rate of copper in the country stands at 1 million tonnes, and we are looking at the projected figure of 3 million metric tonnes in the coming years. However, Baluba Mines is earmarked for closure in 2022, but it has twenty-eight shafts that have a lifespan of thirty years and millions of metric tonnes of copper ore, and it is one of the mines that contribute to the 1 million metric tonnes that he mentioned. What is the Government going to do to engage the investors to reopen the mine which, in turn, will contribute to the realisation of the promise that the New Dawn Government made to create more employment for the youths? Further, what will the Government do to ensure that the jobs that are supposed to be done by our youths, who were promised jobs, are not taken over by the employees of the investors coming from outside the country to drive water bowsers and graders and many simple jobs that can be done by Zambians? What is the hon. Minister’s comment on that?


Dr Musokotwane: Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Member for that important question.


Madam Speaker, I think the answer is basically the same. Perpetual fights and quarrels with investors have led us to where we are today. As a country, let us learn to engage in a constructive manner. Investors have expectations just like we do, as a Government. Our people have expectations, too. However, if we learn to engage and come to terms on what we can agree upon, Baluba and other mines will be opened. If a mine cannot be opened because the ore is finished, then it is finished. That is the way life is. Forty or fifty years ago, the British were exporting cars. Do they export many cars today? They do not. However, they did not sit back and say that because the Japanese were selling cars faster than them, they were doomed. No. They found something else to do.


Madam Speaker, the good news is that from the people we have been speaking to, it looks like the resources are still plentiful in this country. All that is required is to have the right atmosphere that allows money to come into the country in mining. As we do so, we are also going to encourage the old industries on the Copperbelt to add value to copper and provide inputs not only for the mines in the country, but also across the border into the DRC. So, as we present the Budget, there will be some suggestions that we are going to make towards making Zambia a powerful mining country once again. Of course, there will also be suggestions for other sectors, such as agriculture. So, let us work together.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Katakwe (Solwezi East): Madam Speaker, did the hon. Minister do a little survey or research to find out what caused our friends seated on the left to have that insatiable, ravenous, unquenchable and unappeasable appetite to borrow beyond even the ceiling? If they borrowed for infrastructure, we have only seen the biggest humps in Lusaka hiding the beauty of our infrastructure, actually. In other nations, we have seen roads built on pillars so that we are able to see the other side of the road. If the hon. Minister did a bit of research, could he share the findings of that research so that we do not fall into the same traps that our friends fell into?


Dr Musokotwane: Madam Speaker, I wish I had the power of oratory and choice of words of the hon. Member. That was very powerful, indeed.


Madam Speaker, I think the answer is basically what I said to our colleagues on the other side. It will not be long before I am back here to address that question. So, we will take up the issues at that time.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Emmanuel Musonda (Lupososhi): Madam Speaker, I am very worried about the inconsistencies in the New Dawn Government on the foreign debt the Patriotic Front (PF) Government contracted. On Thursday, last week, His Excellency the President, at the press conference, stated that foreign debt in excess of US$20 billion was contracted by the PF. However, the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning has, today, come with verified information indicating that the PF borrowed US$14.8 billion. Who is telling this nation the truth between His Excellency and the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning? 


Dr Musokotwane: Madam Speaker, I have taken note of the question. When I come back to the House, please, remind me of it, and I will be able to answer it.




Dr Musokotwane: No. I cannot answer now.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Chisanga (Lukashya): Madam Speaker, I acknowledge the statement and thank the hon. Minister for it.


Madam Speaker, since the hon. Minister said that the debt contracted by the previous Government is unsustainable, how does the Government intend to finance future infrastructure projects?


Dr Musokotwane: Madam Speaker, this is a very interesting question. As I said, there was also bias in terms of where the debt that was acquired was applied in the country. If you recall, there was a time when people were saying that roads were being constructed under – what was it called?


Mr Nkombo: Lusaka 400 Kilometres (L400) Project.


Dr Musokotwane: No, no.


Mr Nkombo: Link Zambia 8,000 Kilometre Road Project.


Dr Musokotwane: No, there were in schedules. There was the first part and the second part. Something like that. The programme first started somewhere and, by the time it was finished in those parts, the country was already heavily indebted, meaning that in other parts of the country, little or no intervention was made. This is now a challenge. It is like you have a shared and, being the first to milk it, you milk it dry, after which you then tell your friend that it is now his turn to milk it. What will come out? It will be blood. So, one part of the country benefitted while other parts did not.


Madam Speaker, we are going to find ways. I am sorry, I have no answer now but, as we deal with the issue of the debt and how we will restructure it, and that is what I am going to talk about, maybe, that way, we will be able to unlock the answer to that question. Going forward, I think we have to look at ourselves and ask who benefited last time, who did not, and how do we now have some form of equalisation. Let us be open with each other in fairness. I think it is only right that we do that. The other time, you heard somebody here say that they have done very well in their constituency; that they built seventeen schools or something like that. However, in the other parts of the country, there is zero. Surely, can that be ‘One Zambia One Nation’? So, let us work together. We are not here for retribution or something like that. We just want to bring the country together but, as we do so, it is only fair and justifiable that we see who benefited the last time and who did not, and then equalise openly and transparently.


I thank you, Madam Speaker. 


Madam Speaker: I will allow only four more questions, looking at the time, as we have another ministerial statement.


I call upon the hon. Member for Zambezi East.


Mr Kambita (Zambezi East): Thank you very much, Madam Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to ask the hon. Minister of Finance a follow-up question.


Madam Speaker: Order, hon. Member!


There is a point of order from the hon. Member for Pambashe.


The Clerk of the National Assembly (Mrs C. Mbewe): He is not there.


Madam Speaker: Hon. Member for Zambezi East, please, continue.


Mr Kambita: Madam Speaker, now that we have come to our current state, it is clear that the debt trap we are in is unsustainable. Further, in the previous regime, the then President, Mr Edgar Lungu, came to this House and bragged about restructuring the debt, and that was followed by several statements from the then hon. Minister of Finance on how the Government was going to engage some consultants to restructure the debt. Considering all the pronouncements made and the flowery words used, how much progress did the previous regime make towards restructuring the debt? We could, maybe, ride on that to simply clean, for lack of a better word, the ‘confused’ situation. Did the previous regime do absolutely nothing despite the fact that we are where we are because of the confusion that regime caused?


Dr Musokotwane: Madam Speaker, it looks like there is so much interest on the issue of debt. Unfortunately, I cannot answer the questions on that issue now because of the reasons that I have already given. All I can say is that I look forward to answering all these questions when I issue another ministerial statement later in the week.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Amutike (Mongu Central): Madam Speaker, in light of the fiscal pressure facing the economy and the commitment of the ministry to manage the national debt crisis, which the failed Patriotic Front (PF) Government has put us through, is the National Treasury considering implementing debt rules that require the Government to place a gross ceiling on the consolidated Government debt?


Dr Musokotwane: Madam Speaker, the short answer is ‘Yes’, and I think this is one of the problems that was there before. The Treasury must have a goalkeeper; somebody who says, ‘This is all there is’. If that is missing, and especially when different ministries borrow, the Treasury scales. However, let me reserve all those details for later in the week.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.  


Mr Wamunyima (Nalolo): Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister for the elaborate presentation. Coming from a constituency without a single road, it is very touching to hear about such unsustainable levels of debt.


Madam Speaker, the hon. Minister mentioned negative growth in manufacturing and in retail trade. My question is: Is the New Dawn Government improving mechanisms for taxation in the informal sector? I ask this because the informal sector constitutes over 80 per cent of the labour force in this country. Obviously, it is expected that there are revenue leakages, for example, in trade via the Kasumbalesa Border Post. What mechanisms is the ministry putting in place to seal revenue leakages in the informal sector? Further, since taxation in the informal sector was introduced in 2004, what is our position, as of today?


Dr Musokotwane: Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Member for Nalolo for that question. Indeed, I sympathise with him on the fact that in spite of the huge debt mountain, there is not even a gravel road in his constituency, just like in mine. So, we need to address these imbalances.


Madam Speaker, regarding taxes in the informal sector, it is, indeed, a challenge. However, there are certain taxes that are difficult to avoid even if you are in the informal sector, for example, the tax on telephones. Even if you are in the informal sector, you have no choice, but to pay it. So, the challenge is on how to calibrate the taxes in such a way that we can capture people in the informal sector without incurring huge expenses. There is no point in spending K20 to collect a K10 tax. It does not make sense. However, I believe that with the advances in information technology, gradually, we will see many taxes and catch even those in the informal sector.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.  


Dr Kalila (Lukulu East): Madam Speaker, sometime last year or the year before, the previous regime engaged a consultant by the name of Lazard Frères to advise it on restructuring of the debt and offer other advisory services. However, we are still grappling with the choking debt. Could the hon. Minister confirm that the US$5 million paid amounting to the consultant was a waste of taxpayers’ money?


Dr Musokotwane: Madam Speaker, I thank Hon. Dr Kalila, the Member for Lukulu East, for that important question, which I am afraid I cannot answer right now because I will address it later. Allow me to prepare more thoroughly on the issues of debt. So, the hon. Member should remember to recast the question sometime later this week.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.




The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development (Mr Nkombo): Madam Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to render a ministerial statement.


Madam Speaker, I inform the House this afternoon that the Treasury has released money for the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) totalling K249.6 million, which is the amount in the Budget for 2021.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


Mr Nkombo: I, therefore, wish to remind the hon. Members of this august House a few critical issues regarding the CDF.


Madam Speaker, the CDF is a fund established by the Constitution of Zambia under Article 162. Additionally, the Constituency Development Fund Act No. 11 of 2018 was enacted to provide for the management, disbursement, utilisation and accountability of the CDF. The Act also provides for the composition and functions of CDF Committees and matters connected with or incidental to the CDF. 


Madam Speaker, the CDF, which is meant to be distributed to all the 156 constituencies of the country, is budgeted for under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, and is disbursed to constituencies as and when the Treasury releases it. The CDF allocation to each of the 156 constituencies is K1.6 million, and I inform the House that the ministry has released the funds accordingly.


Given the foregoing background, Madam Speaker, I remind hon. Members of Parliament on the need to strictly adhere to the guidelines for the utilisation of the CDF. In reminding hon. Members of the House, especially given the fact that the House has a number of new hon. Members due to the high rate of turnover after the last five years, I thought it very prudent to highlight a few salient issues in the Act that will help my colleagues in managing the fund. While I urge hon. Members to take time to study and understand the guidelines and contents of the Constituency Development Fund Act No. 11 of 2018, let me highlight the principles for the disbursement, management and utilisation of the CDF.


In line with Section 3 of the Constituency Development Fund Act, the management, disbursement and utilisation of the fund shall be done in accordance with the following guiding principles:


  1. transparency;
  2. accountability; and
  3. equity.


Madam Speaker, the principles above do not only apply to the Central Government and the stakeholders involved in the disbursement of funds, but also to the implementation of CDF projects, and should be observed strictly.


Madam Speaker, as hon. Members of Parliament, we may also be interested in the provisions of Section 5 of the Act, which highlights the establishment of CDF Committees in each constituency. The membership of the committees consists of the following part-time members appointed by the Minister responsible for local government:


  1. two community representatives nominated by area Member of Parliament from the constituency;
  2. three Councillors in the constituency, two of whom must be elected by the Councillors from among themselves while one will be nominated by the Member of Parliament for each constituency;
  3. one representative of a chief, where a constituency has one chief, or two representatives of chiefs, where the constituency has two or more chiefs. The representatives are nominated by the chiefs from within the constituency;
  4. a representative of the Director responsible for the Planning Department of the local authority;
  5. a representative of the Director responsible for works or engineering services of the local authority;
  6. a representative of a civil society organisation (CSO) operating in the constituency and nominated by the area Member of Parliament;
  7. a representative of a religious organisation in the constituency nominated by the area Member of Parliament;
  8. the area Member of Parliament; and
  9. a representative of the Director responsible for finance in the local authority in which the constituency is located.


Madam Speaker, the members of the committee shall elect a chairperson and a vice-chairperson from amongst themselves, except that the members referred to in (b), (d), (e), (h) and (i), who are predominantly employees of the council and, therefore, do not qualify for election as chairperson.


Madam Speaker, hon. Members of Parliament have the onerous task of ensuring that the implementation of earmarked projects commences as quickly as possible because the cry of the general citizenry of this country is that development be hastened in all areas.


Madam Speaker, the disbursement of the CDF is in fulfilment of the pledge of the Government, under the leadership of Mr Hakainde Hichilema, to distribute the fund in an equitable and timely manner. I, therefore, congratulate the hon. Minister of Finance on servicing all the constituencies, contrary to the way it was in the past, when the CDF was disbursed in tranches.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


Mr Sing’ombe: Long live!


Mr Nkombo: There is absolutely no need to retain these funds in bank accounts because the challenges are many.


Madam Speaker, I state to hon. Members of Parliament, especially those who are new, that it is worth noting that the end of every finishing line is the beginning of a new race. They will definitely find in their constituencies some projects that their predecessors have not completed, and it is only prudent that they do not abandon those projects. Instead, they should complete them before embarking on other projects.


Madam Speaker, I reiterate that my ministry stands very ready to ensure that the released CDF is used for the intended purposes. We stand by the ministry and all hon. Members of Parliament in addressing the challenges that the management of the CDF has so far experienced. Going by the guidelines that I have given, one of the major setbacks or difficulties that councils have faced has been hon. Members of Parliament weighing down on the staff, which is against the guidelines and interferes with the set rules. I, therefore, caution all my friends and brothers that if they abrogate the provisions of the rule book, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) and the police may just visit them at their doorsteps. So, I encourage all hon. Members to read the rule book. If they do not have the guidelines, they should quickly indicate so that soft copies are sent to them. If possible, hard copies will be provided to them so that they familiarise themselves with the rules and regulations that guide the CDF and the utilisation thereof.


Madam Speaker, I am sure that the statement is so clear that it may not attract any points of clarifications.


Madam Speaker, I thank you.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


Madam Speaker: Hon. Members, you are now free to ask questions on points of clarification on the statement issued by the hon. Minister.


Mr Fube (Chilubi): Madam Speaker, the hon. Minister’s concern is mainly with the co-ordination of projects. The hon. Minister may wish to note that from my little experience, some of the bottlenecks in the implementation of projects comes through the window of the councils, which happen to be the implementing agents. The committee, whose composition he has just read out, as prescribed by an Act of Parliament, mainly sits to select projects based on what the community has submitted, while the implementation remains the responsibility of the council. In that respect, how will the ministry be dealing with the different councils to make sure that projects are implemented?


The other question is –


Madam Speaker: Order, hon. Member!


You can ask only one question.


Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, I agree with the sentiments of the hon. Member, and I thank him for bringing this matter to light. Indeed, the council operations, the implementing agencies, many a time, are the bottlenecks or stumbling blocks to the expedient completion of projects. This has been primarily because of the culture our council officers have adopted. In terms of procurement, they normally take unnecessarily long in their tender processes in order to arrive at the right price for the product they intend to bring to the community.


Madam Speaker, since the coming in of this new Government, the Head of State has been explicit in stating that we are going to run our affairs based on the following three principles:


  1. being mindful of the cost of services or goods;
  2. timely delivery; and
  3. quality delivery.


So, it is up to hon. Member of Parliament to make sure that everybody does their eight-hour work by making sure that if a tender committee, for instance, sits and determines which contractor or supplier they are going to contract, the contracting happens the very next day so that no one sleeps on the job. I am glad to tell hon. Members that if they take that attitude to supervising the councils instead of shying away from doing so, they will see timely and quality delivery, and no one will look behind their shoulder because the citizens are going to benefit from this fund.


 I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Chaatila (Moomba): Madam Speaker, my question, in part, is the same as that asked by the hon. Member of Parliament for Chilubi.


Madam Speaker, the frustration has been emanating from the fact that once the projects are approved and procurement is done, we face situations in which it takes even over a year to drill a borehole, for instance. I have now heard the hon. Minister give us a bit of power to ensure that such things do not happen. However, I would like to find out from him whether it is possible, at council level, to institute some punitive measures against officers who deliberately sit on projects so that we see the delivery of services to our people being enhanced.


 Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Member of Parliament for Moomba for his question, which is similar to the one asked by the hon. Member of Parliament for Chilubi.


Madam Speaker, when I was in the Opposition, I was a victim of this kind of inertia by council officers, who could deliberately procure invoices that were way above the cost of the commodity he just spoke about, a borehole, and they would come and say, “You cannot procure a borehole at K22,000 because, according to the Government’s standards, you are supposed to have auxiliary costs, such as pumping tests and tests on the quality of the water” and this and that. I was a victim of the sinking of fifteen boreholes being delayed for one year. Eventually, I put my foot down and asked my erstwhile old friend, the hon. Member for Mambilima, Dr Wanchinga, who was then hon. Minister of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection, whether it was true that the standard cost of sinking a borehole for the Government was K65,000, when we could procure it for much less. My council officers were telling me that there were all sorts of standards that we had to adhere to.


Madam Speaker, I want the hon. Member to understand that we have carried out a market survey of the private procurement of boreholes, the example he used. On average, a 50 m borehole with all casings and a hand pump costs in the region of K28,000. If the drilling results in a dry borehole, the standard cost is K7,000. All those figures are widely known.


Madam Speaker, the answer to this question is that it is up to the hon. Member for Moomba to be proactive and ensure that no one sits on processes deliberately in order to create a crisis and delay in procuring water, which is a very essential commodity for our people. The CDF, by the way, is the only fund that Members of Parliament have control over, to a certain extent. That being the case, hon. Members must superintend over its utilisation to ensure it abides by the guidelines and is timely. Like I said in my response to the hon. Member for Chilubi, there is no reason a day should pass without implementation once all the decisions have been made. Delivery of services and goods must be done instantaneously.


 I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Kambita (Zambezi East): Madam Speaker, my question will, more or less, be similar to the ones previously asked by hon. Members who have already asked questions. The reason is that it concerns the most critical matter that we face and, therefore, we want clarification from the hon. Minister.


Madam Speaker, the hon. Minister agrees with me that structure follows strategy, and our strategy is to make sure that projects are implemented quickly, among other considerations. Now, there is even quick disbursement of the funds. Further, we have also identified that the biggest bottleneck is the current crop of staff in the councils, and it is the same in almost every constituency. The problem emanates from the fact that the Patriotic Front (PF) employed cadres to manage those offices.


Madam Speaker, now that we have identified this as the most critical problem, what communication have you sent out to all councils countrywide on what will happen if they do not implement projects according to the way we envisage them to be implemented, especially given the fact that those people do not fall under our direct supervision? The councils are under the supervision of the hon. Minister and staff in that structure. So, what has he done? He could send out a message from your office, and it could be a circular or communiqué, that will make the councils work according to the way he wants them to.


Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, just a minute ago, I said that the CDF is the only fund that Members of Parliament superintends over. Therefore, there is no harm whatsoever in their making sure that the council workers are strictly supervised in order for the councils to change their attitude of delaying and procrastinating in getting processes and deliveries to our people. However, since he asked a question, it is only fair for me to assure him that we will dart out a circular to all the councils to remind them about the urgent need for our people to benefit from this fund. We will further indicate that should a staff member wilfully delay the processes of providing services to our people, the appropriate penalties or sanctions will be meted out to them.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Miyutu (Kalabo Central): Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister for the good news concerning the release of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).


Madam Speaker, like others have alluded to, the problem is a lack of qualified labour. Sometimes, the positions of Director is not filled and, as a result, procurement processes are delayed despite other officers being there. What is the position of the ministry on the deployment of skilled staff in all important positions, such as that of Director?


Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, let me thank the hon. Member for Kalabo Central for this very important question, which touches on the competence of the people we have in the offices to deliver the services that our people need.

Madam Speaker, the placement of staff in the local authorities is a responsibility of the Local Government Service Commission (LGSC). As much as we can, we will ensure that the LGSC is depoliticised. As a matter of fact, I just stop short of saying that we are going to exorcise it to remove people who were engaged based on political patronage by our erstwhile leaders, the PF, who, in their manifesto, were very explicit in stating that they were only going to employ PF believers and members. A case in point is that, as you may know, there is currently no Chairperson and, when we tried to follow the statue, the Act that provides for leeway for someone to act in the position of Chairperson, we landed on a typical cadre and that attempt to follow the law blew up in our faces when those who knew, the staff in the commission, exposed the fact that it was tainted with political partisanship. From my little experience, I can say that it is true that in all the local authorities, starting from the most basic position of firemen, the PF employed only its cadres. Therefore, we have a big job to professionalise the commission, which is responsible for the placement of employees in all councils, without being seen to be victimising anyone.


Madam Speaker, I am sure you appreciate that ours is a tough job because we cannot judge a book by its cover, but we all know, now, that, principally, the commission and councils have been filled with people who are less qualified as gratification for belonging to a political party. We will not victimise anyone by removing them from their sources of livelihoods. I must state, however, that in order to remedy the situation, we will find a way to get all those who will prove to be politically active, such as the example I gave earlier, out so that we can professionalise the commission. I assure you that the result thereof will be quality delivery of services and goods to our people. We have to be very careful, and that is why His Excellency the Seventh Republican President, Mr Hakainde Hichilema, has been very clear in stating that he will not rush to do certain things; there may be collateral damage to innocent people who are in Government jobs. Every citizen deserves to get a Government job. The President said this despite being blamed of acting slowly in making the desired changes. So, we have to tread carefully as we try to reform the employing agency for the local authorities.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Mung’andu (Chama South): Madam Speaker, I thank and congratulate the hon. Minister on this wonderful statement. This is how it should be. The New Dawn Government has our maximum support if it will take this trajectory.


Madam Speaker, since the New Dawn Government has promised a total transformation of our communities, particularly the rural areas that some of us represent, is our Government considering increasing the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), probably to above K10 million per constituency, since this is the fund that has real impact on our people in the constituencies? Is there such a possibility in next year’s Budget?


Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, at the expense of straying into the domain of the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning, whose area this clearly is, I say that it has been our belief, as the United Party for National Development (UPND), that we are going to fully implement the decentralisation that our brothers and sisters in the PF put on the shelf for a very long time. In implementing decentralisation, it goes without saying that money or resources are going to come get down from the centre, here, in Lusaka, to the districts. So, yes, I can confirm that there will be an increase, but I will leave the naming of the figure to the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning who, in not so distant a future, maybe in a week or two, is going to give the hon. Member the figure he is looking for. However, I assure my dear brother and friend that, maybe, that will be the day he leaves the PF and joins us because there will be a change.


I thank you, Madam.


Hon. UPND Members: Hear, hear!


Mr Katakwe: Madam Speaker, thank you for giving me the chance to ask the hon. Minister of Local Government and Rural Development a question.


Madam Speaker, the hon. Member for Zambezi East alluded to the fact that the structures are very important in administering the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). However, there are instances in which the constitution of the CDF Committees was not fairly done, as the committees comprised some Patriotic Front (PF) cadres with an insatiable appetite to pocket money.


Hon. PF Members: Question!


Mr Katakwe: I know of rural areas where the composition of CDF Committees was influenced by our friends on your left. Now, the mandate of the Member of Parliament –


Mr Kampyongo: On a point of order, Madam Speaker.


Madam Speaker: A point of order is raised.


Mr Kampyongo: Madam Speaker, I appreciate that the hon. Member on the Floor is new, but I know that he attended the workshop at which all hon. Members were oriented properly. We do not get excited to the level where we start debating without facts.


Mr Sing’ombe: Who told you?


Mr Kampyongo: Further, the hon. Member inherited a seat from his fellow United Party for National Development (UPND) member. So, is he in order to insinuate that in his constituency, his predecessor got Patriotic Front (PF) members to compose the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) Committee?


I seek your serious ruling, Madam Speaker.


Hon. PF Members: Hear, hear!


Madam Speaker: Hon. Member for Solwezi East, stick to facts when debating and be specific when asking questions. Do not debate your question. Be specific in asking the question, and it will be answered.


Proceed with your question.


Mr Katakwe: Madam Speaker, the facts are there.


Madam Speaker, does the mandate of the Member of Parliament to reconstitute the CDF Committee still stand, according to the regulation that the hon. Minister read out?


Mr Chibuye: Where were you?


Mr Katakwe: If we are given that mandate, I want it to be clear to the members out there that the Member of Parliament is going to reconstitute the committee in accordance with the regulations.


Hon. PF Members: It is the law. Read the law.


Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Mushindamo for his question. The essence of this ministerial statement is to do precisely what he is asking for.


Hon. Member, please, read the guidelines. This is a new Parliament. So, you are at liberty to go, as quickly as possible, and form the committee and once you have done that, ensure that the names are sent to the ministry as quickly as possible for scrutiny and approval. That is the way it works. We will do that for you at lightning speed; we will approve the committee as soon as the documents come to the ministry so that you can start spending the money.


Madam Speaker, let me take advantage of this question, because the hon. Member spoke about people putting money into their pockets. This statement also serves as a caution because to be forewarned is to be forearmed. The Act is couched in such a way that it does not permit you, as hon. Members of Parliament, to actually touch the funds. All you have is control over the funds’ utilisation. However, if you have long fingers and your fingers extend to make contact with the funds, you will be doing it at your own peril.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Mabeta (Kankoyo): Madam Speaker, is it true that this is the first time a Government has managed to pay the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to all the constituencies in fourteen days, even before presenting its first Budget?


Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, I can confirm that this is not the first time that the whole CDF has been disbursed in one shot. There have been times in the past years when the CDF has been disbursed in tranches and years in which it has been disbursed  piecemeal.


Madam Speaker, let me take advantage of this question to remind hon. Members that this money that is coming into your accounts is CDF for 2021 and that we have just a couple of weeks before we begin a new fiscal year. It, therefore, goes without saying that our friends in the PF had not given priority to the disbursement of this fund. Ideally, they should have released the money in January, 2021. That is why, in my submission, I made a plea to my hon. Colleagues here that if there are projects that were left hanging by those who failed to make it back here via the election, they should complete the projects even if they are not the priority of the current hon. Members. In our party, which is in Government today, we will plead with the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning to give priority to the CDF so that we have a whole fiscal year to plan our projects well. I assure you that by the time he presents the 2022 Budget Speech, all this money will not have been touched because there are processes to follow, including the constitution of the committees that I read in my statement.


Thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Kampyongo: Madam Speaker, let me start by commending the hon. Minister for presenting this statement. Indeed, this has been a very difficult year, but this statement is also a clear demonstration that this Government did not inherit empty coffers. To disburse these funds, there must have been something the Government found in the coffers.


Hon. Minister, as we are going into the Rainy Season, when do we expect the funds to hit the accounts, seeing that you indicated that the money has already been disbursed from the Ministry of Finance and National Planning and we expect it to be in the constituency coffers?


Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, I can confirm that the funds have been sitting on our account for nearly ten days now, having been paid in two instalments. The first instalment was less by K10 million only, which represented the allocations for, plus or minus, four constituencies. After conferring with the Ministry of Finance and National Planning, we chose to hold on to the money until everything was put together. However, please, note that I spoke to my staff at the time and they explained to me that there would be about four constituencies that would not be funded from the first disbursement, and I told them to leave out Mazabuka Central, Liuwa and Monze Central so that the other hon. Members could start working. However, fortunately, the very next day, the remaining K10 million was disbursed, and I can now confirm to you that the banks have been instructed to pay out. Do not quote me on this, but I think the money should be in the accounts today or in the next few days, but before Friday. If the hon. Members talk to their Council Secretaries and Town Clerks, depending on which bank they are with, they may confirm that the money is in the accounts.


I thank you, Madam.


Ms Mwamba (Kasama): Madam Speaker, the Constituency Development Fund (CPF), across the board, is K1.6 million. However, when you look at some wards in constituencies like Kasama Central, they are equal to a constituency. Would it be possible for the hon. Minister to consider not disbursing the same CDF amount across the board and, instead, vary the allocations according to geographical and other factors of specific constituencies?


Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, I wish it were left up to me to make those decisions. Here, the hon. Member is bringing up issues of equity and levels of development. Clearly, Lusaka is much more developed than Kasama, Mporokoso or Magoye and, therefore, if you looked at issues of equity, maybe, the argument would hold water. However, this fund is ring-fenced in a law, the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) Act, and this is the House that makes laws. The law, at the time it was crafted, provided that each constituency would get the same amount of money, and the same is true of the Local Government Equalisation Fund (LGEF).


Madam Speaker, it is up to this House to make any changes to the law on the CDF because in my terms of reference, I do not have what it takes to say that because Zambezi and Chavuma are farther, bigger and less developed than Mazabuka Central, they should get more money than others. I think it is our collective duty, as the Lawmakers, to move an amendment to the law to provide for that.


Hon. Member for Kasama Central, many people have visited that area and those who have been here a little longer will attest to the fact that, so far, we thought that if it is not broken, we should not fix it. It is working quite well because currently, the CDF is mostly used  for the most basic needs, such as water and health facilities, to supplement the Government’s effort of in our areas. However, your worry might be a thing of the past soon. As I said in my earlier statement, His Excellency the President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Mr Hakainde Hichilema, is committed to implementing the decentralisation process and, in his own words, “… to remove all the money from Lusaka and take it into the provinces, districts, constituencies and wards”. That is the New Dawn President’s vision is for now, and I am sure that the question will be answered by the time we implement the decentralisation process.


 Madam Speaker, I thank you.


Mr Mwene (Mangango): Madam Speaker, there are some chiefs who have more than one constituency in their chiefdoms. Should they have more than one representative in each constituency or should the same representative represent the chief in both constituencies? The other thing I would like to find out –


Madam Speaker: Order, hon. Member!


You are only allowed to ask one question.


Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, in my submission, I was very clear, and I got an extract from the guidelines that addresses the very issue that the hon. Member of Parliament for Mangango has brought before me. I said that one representative of the chief, where a constituency has one chief, or two representatives of the chiefs, where the constituency has two or more chiefs, to be nominated by those chiefs within the constituency. In short, this means that, to give a practical example, in the constituency that I represent, Mazabuka Central, Chief Nalwama has subjects in both Chikankata and Mazabuka constituencies. So, he will nominate one representative to sit in the Mazabuka District Council and another one to sit in the Chikankata District Council.


I hope that answers your question, hon. Member of Parliament for Mangango.


Madam Speaker, I thank you.


Mr Mwambazi: Madam Speaker, the hon. Minister mentioned earlier that there are issues of the decentralisation around the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and intentions to increase the fund. Is the increase going to be in the coming allocation? What are the plans in the New Dawn Government?


Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, for avoidance of doubt, I want us to all note that the Budget that the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning will be presenting in a few days from now was prepared by the PF. After we took over Government, the hon. Minister looked at what the PF had prepared and made some minimal adjustments in order to suit our aspirations, as a party. Therefore, the CDF for this year remains at K1.6 million for each constituency because Rome was not built in a day, and we are not magicians, by the way.


Madam Speaker, I also said that hon. Members should give the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning a chance to present his Budget Speech for next year. He will do it in just a few days from now, and he was making a plea for hon. Members to be just slightly patient. Once he comes to present the Budget for 2022, they can then ask those questions on the decentralisation not only of the CDF, but also of everything else. In the meantime, I encourage hon. Members to read as much as they can on the Decentralisation Policy, which was obviously made by our friends, but they put it on the shelf for fear of, maybe, losing decision-making power. However, our President has been very bold about it and said that we are going to take the power to the people.


Madam Speaker, I thank you.


Madam Speaker: Order!


Business was suspended for 1640 hours until 1700 hours.        


[MADAM SPEAKER in the Chair]


Madam Speaker: When business was suspended, the House was debating the statement issued by the hon. Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, and the hon. Minister had just finished answering the question asked by the hon. Member for Bwana Mkubwa. I will allow four more questions.


Mr Chibuye (Roan): Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Ministers of Local Government and Rural Development, and Finance and National Planning for releasing this money on time.


Madam Speaker, being a new in the National Assembly, I want to find out from my elder brother, the hon. Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, whether the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) has a specific date or month in the calendar year when it is supposed to be released to constituencies. If so, what would happen in the event that the Ministry of Finance and National Planning delayed in releasing the CDF for this year and released the one for the next year on time so that the new CDF found the delayed one still in our account? Would the Treasury scoop back the funds?


Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, the date of disbursement of the CDF is not cast in the law, and is normally done as and when the Treasury has enough money to do so after looking at all the competing needs of the country. It may be prudent for the hon. Member with such a brilliant idea to move an amendment to the law so that the date of disbursement is cast in legislation, which will be one way of ensuring that the fund is disbursed early in the year, and I would support such an idea. However, going by the current situation, in which it is plain knowledge that the Treasury is empty, it might be injurious to cast a disbursement date in the law. That is what I would submit. In an ideal situation in which there is prudent management of resources and actual prioritisation, we could cast the date in the law so that money is disbursed early in the year. Truly speaking, his concern is as good as mine. For example, the disbursement has been done, but in, maybe, two or three weeks from now, we will be in the Rainy Season, and it will become very difficult to operate. So, the suggestion is good food for thought and, maybe, as we get along on this journey, we can cast the date of disbursement in the law.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Sampa: Madam Speaker, I seek your indulgence to congratulate my wife on the new Zambian who was born at 1100 hours today. Our baby girl weighed 2.6 kg, and her name is Katongo Luyando Sampa – I even lost my breath there. That done, I congratulate the hon. Minister of Local Government and Rural Development because I am addressing him for the first time. I am sure he is equal to the task, and I am very confident that at no time will he suspend the Mayor of Lusaka and Kitwe for whatever reason.


Madam Speaker, my question is on the Constituency Development Fund Act. The problem starts and ends with the Act, which empowers council employees and makes Members of Parliament only observers. The Member of Parliament’s role starts with recommending a project, for example, the building of a clinic. The rest is done by the council, which advertises and gives the tender to whomever it wants. Right now, the council is making payments from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) account but, as the Member of Parliament for Matero, I do not even know who is making the payments. The council is paying for its meetings, but I have no idea about those payments. Will the hon. Minister consider amending the Act to empower Members of Parliament? For sure, if a Member of Parliament misbehaves, the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) will be waiting. We are answerable to people, but the ones who manage the funds are not answerable to the people.


Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, the law is dynamic; it is never static. There are reasons those who crafted the law put it the way it is. The hon. Member has already said, Members of Parliament do not get involved in the mechanics of approval and signing of cheques, and that is true. This is the reason when councils are being audited, the Member of Parliament does not sit in the room. So, the exclusion is meant to protect Members of Parliament and their offices. In the past, a few Members of Parliament were being called to police stations to answer questions or being arrested over the CDF.


Madam Speaker, I truly think that if we need to relook at the law, we are all welcome to do so because that is our primary function, as hon. Members of Parliament. The law is supposed to be good for people, and we are also the people. However, like I said, sometimes, we could be tempted to lengthen our fingers a bit if we changed the law.


Madam Speaker, in my statement, I was very loud and clear in stating that when I got into the ministry and spoke to the staff there, one of the things that came out was that despite the exclusion of Members of Parliament from the mechanics of procurement, some hon. Members of Parliament have still gone ahead and forced their way into being procurement officers. Sometimes, that is fine. I have got almost near that boundary when I said I could not procure a borehole at K60,000 and demanded that we waited and fought until we got the product at the right price. So, there is a borderline that we cannot cross. For instance, we cannot be the ones to invite pro forma invoices and quotations, but we can still dispute some things. Once the CDF Tender Committee sits, it still brings back recommendations to the committee, of which we are a part. So, we can refuse to sanction the purchase of an air vent, for example, at K60 instead of K12. We have the leverage to do that.


Madam Speaker, I think that the remedy to the problem is what the hon. Member of Parliament for Zambezi East, that is, writing notes to the councils to remind them to ensure cost effectiveness, timely delivery and quality of goods and services delivered. Once we do that, I think we will all be smiling.


I thank you, Madam.


Mr Lubozha (Chifubu): Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister for bringing to the House the good news of the disbursement of the long-awaited Constituency Development Fund (CDF). Surely, the CDF and the Ward Development Fund (WDF) are the funds that have been used in the development of constituencies. The WDF, which is very important, falls under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development just like the CDF. Can the hon. Minister assure me that the WDF will also be disbursed for the development of the wards?


Madam Speaker, further, since the hon. Minister stated that the CDF we are receiving now is supposed to have been disbursed in January, 2021, by the Patriotic Front (PF) Government, when are we likely to get the CDF for 2022? Since the disbursement for this year was delayed, is there an assurance of its being done on time next year so that we can embark on the development journey?


Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, all monies in the line ministries come from Control 99, meaning the Ministry of Finance and National Planning provides them. So, we are just a beneficiary and conduit of this money called the CDF.


Madam Speaker, it should be known, here and now, that the Ward Development Fund (WDF) is normally drawn from the revenues generated by the councils in their jurisdictions. The only money that comes from the Central Government is the LGEF and the CDF.


Madam Speaker, in terms of how the CDF will be disbursed next year, I have made an earnest appeal to the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning to do it early in the year. That said, the hon. Member for Chifubu should not forget that arguable as it might be, we have inherited a broken economy in which the obligations of the Government, such as debt servicing, have been abrogated by our former governors, the PF. Since they defaulted on a scheduled payment of the Eurobond, there should be no more conversation on whether there is money or not. No one should think that the Treasury should be completely empty for us to agree that there is no money. The point is that if you default on your obligation, it is because you do not have the money. I must say that the worst is yet to come because some of the loans our colleagues got are now maturing, and the owners will want the money. So, the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning, together with us here who have inherited a broken economy, have the huge task of a balancing act, that is, to provide the CDF, on the one hand, and to pay civil servants, on the other.


Madam Speaker, you know very well that in the last two or three years, in the Budgets that the PF presented, debt servicing accounted for 50 per cent while recurrent expenditure accounted for 40 per cent, or vice versa, leaving only 10 per cent for the social sector. What kind of economy can that be? So, the hon. Member must just be a little patient. His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia and the Commander-in-Chief of all the Armed Forces, ...


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


Mr Nkombo: ... Mr Hakainde Hichilema, is very determined to fix what has been broken.


Mr Chibuye: That is very important.


Mr Nkombo: Very important, as a matter of fact.


Madam Speaker, in fixing what has been broken in order to create some space for what the hon. Member is wishing for, there has to be rigorous moves towards a restructuring of the debt for us to have some space to continue servicing the social sector. So, it is really a vicious cycle, but do not worry because the President said that we will be fine; we will be smiling.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Simuzingili (Gwembe): Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister for putting smiles on the faces of many hon. Members of Parliament. We are very happy and excited. However, what miracle has the hon. Minister performed to disburse the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to all constituencies so timely when this was a teething problem for our colleagues? Is this the type of leadership we voted for in the New Dawn Government? Is this an assurance that going forward, this is what we should expect?


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, without sounding blasphemous, one man from Galilee, in answering a question, simply said, “You have said it”, and the hon. Member for Gwembe has said it.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.




Madam Speaker: Order!







4. Mr Chanda (Kanchibiya) asked the hon. Minister of Agriculture:


  1. when the Food Reserve Agency will pay farmers in Kanchibiya Parliamentary Constituency and other parts of the country for the maize supplied during the 2020-2021 Marketing Season;
  2. what the cause of the delay in paying the farmers is; and 
  3. whether the delayed payment will not affect preparations for the 2021/2022 Farming Season.


The Minister of Agriculture (Mr M. Phiri): Madam Speaker, the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) is aware of the delayed payments to the farmers who supplied maize to the agency in Kanchibiya Parliamentary Constituency and other parts of the country. The affected farmers will be paid as soon as the funds are made available.


Madam Speaker, the delay in payments has mainly been caused by the overwhelming response the agency received from the farmers who have since supplied more maize than the targeted quantity of 500,000 metric tonnes, countrywide. To this end, the Ministry of Agriculture has requested for supplementary funding from the Ministry of Finance and National Planning in order to pay all the farmers who supplied maize. Further, as of last Friday, the ministry allowed the FRA to export 450,000 metric tonnes of maize so that the proceeds thereof can go towards payments for the maize that the farmers have supplied. 


Madam Speaker, the Government is making efforts to resolve the issue of payments to farmers as a matter of urgency in order to make sure that the preparations for the 2021/2022 Farming Season are not affected. Further, the farmers under the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), who constitute the bulk of smallholder farmers, have already made their contributions and are ready to access farming inputs. As of today, over 96 per cent of the targeted FISP beneficiaries have deposited their contributions.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr E. Daka (Msanzala): Madam Speaker, the hon. Minister has clearly said that the farmers will be paid, but my concern is on the transporters who are supposed to ferry the maize, but they have also not been paid, and the maize that the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has just procured is in danger of going to waste. How soon will the Government pay the transporters?


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, I assure the hon. Member that K200 million is enroute to the FRA and that part of it will be used to ameliorate the problems that the transporters who have been working with the agency are encountering. So, the transporters will continue working, and this will be an on-going process.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Mundubile (Mporokoso): Madam Speaker, the hon. Minister has informed the nation that farmers supplied more maize than the agency was prepared to procure and that the ministry has since requested for further funding to be able to procure more. How did the ministry come up with the decision to procure more than 500,000 metric tonnes? Further, how much more does it intend to procure?


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Member for that question because, through him, the nation will be informed of a very important decision.


Madam Speaker, the quantity that the previous Government had mandated the FRA to procure was 500,000 or half a million metric tonnes. However, due to an overwhelming response, the agency was mandated to precure 300,000 metric tonnes more. As you will recall, that is what brought in the problem of a shortage of grain bags. So, we have now bought 300,000 metric tonnes more than the targeted 500,000 metric tonnes.


Madam Speaker, you will agree with me that there has been a huge outcry from farmers that they have delivered maize to our doorsteps, but the maize is not being taken to safe storage. The maize outside the agency is not agency maize, but it is maize for Zambian farmers. So, we have made the decision to mop it up and store it. There is a certain quantity that we want to work with which, for now, I will not mention because it is not yet qualified by the agency. Suffice it for me to say, yes, we are now getting to beyond 800,000 metric tonnes, which is close to a million tonnes, because of the mop-up exercise that is on-going.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Fube (Chilubi): Madam Speaker, my question has been overtaken by events. It is similar to the one asked by the hon. Leader of the Opposition.


Mr Kampyongo (Shiwang’andu): Madam Speaker, Kanchibiya and Shiwang’andu constituencies share borders. Last week, the hon. Minister responded to a Question for Oral Answer that was posed by the hon. Member of Parliament for Chinsali Central, Mr Mukosa, regarding grain bags. I appreciate what the hon. Minister has stated that most of our farmers moved from their villages and covered long distances to take their maize to the various depots in Kanchibiya, Shiwang’andu and Chipata Central. Further, his assurance of grain bags being delivered so that the maize can be packaged in order for the farmers to weigh it and get it certified by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) is very important. However, as I speak, the farmers in Shiwang’andu, Kanchibiya and Chinsali are yet to receive the grain bags into which they can package their maize before they can even talk of being paid. What is the hon. Minister doing to ensure that the assurances he gave on the Floor of this august House come to fruition and that our farmers whose maize is now getting soaked at various depots across the country are helped?


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, I assure the hon. Members and, indeed, the country that the agency, working together with the officials in my ministry, is, on a daily basis, pushing for extra empty grain bags to be made available. You will appreciate that the quantities keep increasing because of the pressure, which is a consequence of the good production that the country had. So, yes, in certain places, we will have some difficulties providing sufficient bags, but I assure the hon. Member that as I speak, 470,000 empty grain bags are being distributed to different localities. I, therefore, urge him to sit down with me after the Sitting or tomorrow so that we can see exactly where the problem is.


Madam Speaker, I assure the hon. Member that our attitude is to be very serious with this exercise because it cuts across political lines. So, we will listen to what the hon. Member wants and we will do exactly that.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Kampyongo indicated assent.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


Ms S. Mwamba (Kasama Central): Madam Speaker, the hon. Minister had assured us that empty grain bags were on their way. However, many farmers’ maize is still in the open, and over the past weekend, I am sure most parts of Zambia experienced rainfall. In Kasama Central, in particular, farmers are crying because their maize has been soaked. We have had rainfall for three days, and I think that maize will soon start to geminate. So, even when the bags get there, the maize would have been wasted. Who will bear the cost of that wastage, since we still need to encourage the farmers to continue farming? If the farmers make losses, what will happen?


Madam Speaker: Let me give guidance.


The issue of grain bags was already dealt with. In this specific question, we are talking about paying farmers. However, since the hon. Minister is here, maybe, he can answer.


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, I will respond to the hon. Member.


Madam Speaker, I have indicated that the quantity of maize we are buying keeps increasing because the Government wants to listen to the farmers’ cry. Were the Government not a listening one and uncaring, it would have stopped buying at 500,000 metric tonnes because that is the quantity for the National Strategic Reserves. However, we forced the agency to procure above 800,000 metric tonnes. I, therefore, urge the hon. Members to bear with the agency because it is the cry of the farmers that is increasing the stock, and the agency has to make arrangements for additional empty grain bags, which are of a special type, not an ordinary one. So, we need to give the agency time to continue getting the empty grain bags and sending them to farmers.


Madam Speaker, in terms of the maize, I assure hon. Members that unless it was totally soaked in water, it will not go bad. Not even pouring water on it for two to three days would totally destroy it. Where it is soaked, it is encouraged to dry it at the depots where it is so that we can mitigate the losses. Obviously, some of the maize will go to waste, and I want to repeat that the maize belongs to the farmers and, at any rate, Zambians. However, the farmers need to look after the maize before it is given to the agency. So, I will not stand here and say that the agency will take care of the maize that has been soaked because the maize belongs to the farmers, not to the agency, and it is only normal that the owners dry it and try to get whatever is good and sell it to the Agency.


 I thank you, Madam Speaker.


 Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


Mr Sampa (Matero): Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Reuben Mtolo Phiri, the Member of Parliament for Chipata Central Constituency, kwamene kuchoka bantu batulo, loosely translated, ‘a place where intelligent people come from.’




Mr Sampa:  Madam Speaker, the response has been above board. However, my concern is on the hon. Minister’s use of the phrase ‘as soon as possible.’ Many questions have been asked on when the Government will pay farmers, and the information from Kanchibiya and elsewhere is that maize is just lying there waiting for the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to pick it up, and goats and cows are eating it. This being October, rainfall may come any time and waste that maize. Further, the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning was saying that we cannot borrow. So, we need this money to provide free education and create employment. This is gold above the ground, not the one under, and we need to grab it as a nation. We can even export. Can the hon. Minister give a time line of when money will be made available for buying all the maize from wherever it is in all the ten provinces and putting it into FRA depots?


 Mr Phiri: Madam Speaker, I want to make things very clear. What the agency will do is accept the maize and put it into safe storage.  What it will not do is to give a time line in terms of payments, as per the question because, currently, the maize we are getting is totally off budget. We have allowed the agency to sell maize either locally or outside, whichever will be possible, and use the proceeds to pay farmers. Therefore, it will be folly and absolutely wrong of me to stand here, make promises and give false hopes by giving a time frame in which people will be paid. In fact, we have asked the agency to tell farmers that only those who are ready to wait for a while for their payments should give it their maize. Otherwise, they are free to sell the maize elsewhere because the quantity of maize we are getting is way above the requirements of the agency.


 I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Nyambose (Chasefu): Madam Speaker, I join others in congratulating Hon. Mtolo Phiri on his appointment as Minister of Agriculture.


Hon. Minister, I am sure you are very much aware, as said by other hon. Members, that over the weekend, it rained heavily in Chasefu, and maize is going to waste. I thank you for the circular that has come from the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), indicating that you have extended the period of buying maize from farmers. My question is: Why can the Government which, so far, has shown good leadership, not get the maize to save the people who have been at the satellite depots for more than two months, leaving their homes with the hope of selling their maize? Why can the FRA not accept the ordinary bags that the farmers have gone with to the depots as we wait for the FRA bags, which are taking long to reach the farmers? In Chasefu, we have over 100,000 bags of maize waiting to be purchased by the FRA. In the meantime, vulnerable farmers have taken time away from their homes. Why can this Government not save the people, our mothers, so that they can go back and do other important chores in their homes?


Mr Phiri: Madam Speaker, let me start by thanking the hon. Member for Chasefu for his kind words.


 Hon. Member for Chasefu, I have heard your complaint on how long it is taking for farmers to put maize in our bags before the maize is accepted into storage. I will discuss the issue with the agency. However, I want you to appreciate the point that the bags we, the ordinary people, buy from the shops are not ultraviolet (UV) stabilised, meaning they are not strong enough to stand the rays of the sun. They are also not anti-slip, which means that if you put one on top of the other, they simply slip off and fall. Since the agency manages huge stocks of maize, it cannot use those bags because they are dangerous for our industry. We need good bags.


Madam Speaker, what we need to do is ensure that the bags flow to the depots as quickly as possible so that our poor farmers, some of whom have been at the depots for a long time, are saved from the agony of waiting. For me to stand here and say that we will accept the ordinary bags would be wrong; it would be poor management on my part because I would be sending a very wrong signal to the farming community and, especially, the agency.


 I thank you, Madam Speaker.


 Mr Chanda: Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister of Agriculture for the response given.


 Madam Speaker, I think that the hon. Minister would do well to address part ‘C’ of the question, which is on whether the delayed payment will not affect preparations for the 2021/2022 Farming Season. The situation is worsened by the delayed flagging off of the distribution of inputs. Could the hon. Minister, please, give a concise response to our farmers, who are supposed to prepare for the coming season? What is he saying to them? Is he saying, ‘Loleleni’, meaning, ‘Wait’? What is the definite date on which the payments will be made?


Mr Phiri: Madam Speaker, I will be patient enough to answer this question yet again.


 Madam Speaker, the agency has been put in the awkward situation of buying maize way more than the budgeted for quantity. The hon. Member will be happy to note that, actually, for the 500,000 tonnes of maize that it was mandated to buy, the agency has paid almost all the farmers. We are grappling with payments for the extra quantities that we have asked the agency to buy. So, some of the farmers will be affected, especially those who are not on FISP, because the money is held in stock. Those under FISP will not be affected because they have already paid for their inputs, and we will be give them their inputs soon. Those not on FISP, yes, they will be affected because they do not have money, but they are a very small portion,. Mind you, the FISP covers 1,024,000 small-scale farmers. That is why we are saying that those who can find a market elsewhere, they can sell the maize there. Otherwise, the agency has to look for the money to pay them, but the allocation it had has been depleted.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Mwambazi (Bwana Mkubwa): Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister for his statement and congratulate him on his appointment.


Madam Speaker, the ministry has allowed the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to export 450 metric tonnes of maize and, in turn, pay farmers. Could the hon. Minister kindly shed more light on how much money will be raised from selling 450 metric tonnes of maize vis-a-vis the debt that is owed to farmers?


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, I thank Hon. Mwambazi for this question, but it is very difficult for me to answer because, as he might be aware, the agency is now looking for a market within and outside the borders. So, I do not know at what price it will sell, and it would be wrong of me to start guessing or estimating. Only after the agency finds buyers will we multiply the offered price by 450 metric tonnes or whatever quantity that will be export or sold to know the money to be made. However, if Hon. Mwambazi wishes, he can see me when we are outside for me to give him an indication of the export pricing so that he can have an idea of the money to be realised.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Chibuye (Roan): Madam Speaker, with the huge amount of money that the Government is spending on paying our farmers, including the K200 million the hon. Minister said is in the pipelines to our farmers, has the ministry taken any emergency measures, such as providing tarpaulin tents for covering the maize I saw uncovered at Kasununu Satellite Depot in Food Reserve Agency (FRA) bags? Even at Kapiri Mposhi Town, when I drove by, I could see a huge uncovered stack of maize in FRA bags while it was drizzling. To avoid wastage of resources, is the ministry considering quickly sending tarpaulin tents to cover this precious commodity for the country?


Madam Speaker: Hon. Member, maybe, that question can come later because the hon. Minister is now answering questions relating to the delay in payments and whether the delay will not affect the farming season. So, you can reserve that question for the next question that is coming.


Mr Malambo (Magoye): Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister for the good answers that he is giving.


Madam Speaker, the people of Magoye, especially those who received the recently distributed bags from the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), want to learn more about how soon the FRA will start accepting the maize into its sheds.


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, that is a very important question because it is for the information of the whole nation.


Madam Speaker, the FRA has started accepting maize from farmers. So, all the farmers who have been given the FRA bags and all those who have their maize at the depots should not panic because, as of today, the FRA has started receiving maize into its sheds.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Madam Speaker gave the Floor to Ms Halwiindi, but she was unavailable.


Mr Chisanga (Lukashya): Madam Speaker, I appreciate the hon. Minister of Agriculture for the statement issued on the Floor. 


Madam Speaker, at what price has the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) been instructed to procure the excess maize?


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, the FRA is buying at the standard price of K150 per bag.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Kolala (Lufubu): Madam Speaker, I am not yet clear on when our people will receive the empty grain bags for the maize that the hon. Minister said the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) was receiving, but to be paid for later. As we speak, there are no empty grain bags in my constituency. So, when are we expecting our people to receive the empty grain bags?


Madam Speaker: Hon. Member for Lufubu, you are supposed to ask questions regarding late payments, when the payments are going to be made, why the delay, what the Government is doing and whether the delay will affect the farming season. As for the issue of empty grain bags, I am sure the hon. Minister has answered that adequately.


Mr Kolala: Madam Speaker, no. There some of our people, as we speak, who are at depots waiting for empty grain bags in order for them to repack the maize. Are you saying we should ignore that?


Madam Speaker: Hon. Member, the question should be in relation to late payments, not to empty grain bags. 


Mr Mutinta (Itezhi-Tezhi): Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister of Agriculture for his elaborate explanation on most of the issues, which I feel are a result of poor planning by the previous Government.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


Mr Mutinta: Surely, all these conversations we are having would not be there had somebody planned properly at the right time to ensure that we did not have all these challenges that the hon. Minister is struggling to put into perspective. 


Madam Speaker, what is causing all these losses to our poor farmers is communication. As I speak, my farmers in Itezhi-Tezhi are not aware of all the new information, such as on whether they should now go to the depots. They have been hiring vehicles and taking their maize to depots without knowing that at some point, the Government will not buy. So, how does the hon. Minister wish to strengthen the National Agriculture Information Service (NAIS) so that farmers can be having real-time information in order for them to not incur losses as a result of a lack of information? The districts are not giving farmers real-time information despite there being community radio stations and other communication channels. They seem to grow cold feet in releasing that kind of information. How will the Government ensure that information flows?


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, I think all I can say is that we will improve on the effectiveness of our communication. However, it is also incumbent upon us, as hon. Members, to share the information we get here with our constituents because it is very vital information. Nonetheless, we will improve on the point raised.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Ms Halwiindi (Kabwe Central): Hon. Minister of Agriculture, you may wish to note that transporters are co-partners with the farmers and that during the last farming season, some transporters were not paid because they belonged to certain political parties. Are you going to look into that issue so that the affected transporters are not left behind and their businesses destroyed completely?


Madam Speaker: Hon. Member for Kabwe Central, you can reserve that question for the next round of questions.


Mr Mpundu (Chembe): Hon. Minister of Agriculture, is there a circular that you have issued to the people on the ground on what information they should give to the people at the depots? I ask this question because I received information yesterday to the effect that Food Reserve Agency (FRA) officers at the depots are telling farmers that the agency is carrying out an audit and, hence, not buying any more maize. I need clarity on this matter so that we inform the people on the ground on what is pertaining.


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, the answer is ‘Yes’, a circular has gone out and, beyond that, the FRA is going to issue a statement.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr J. E. Banda (Petauke Central): Madam Speaker, who will supply farmers from Petauke Central with inputs now? The hon. Minister is saying that the payment date is not known. So, we are asking him if he can allow a debt swap so that farmers from Petauke Central Constituency can get farming inputs from the Government to prepare for this farming season.


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, farmers under FISP are not affected in any way by the delayed payments in terms of accessing inputs. They will, probably, be affected by a little money being held back in stock. The famers who could be affected are those who are not under FISP and, unfortunately, to those, the agency has no obligation in terms of where they are going to get the inputs. So, the swap that the hon. Member for Petauke Central is mentioning is a bit difficult to actualise. However, I will be very happy if the hon. Member can come to the office tomorrow so that we can brainstorm on the arrangement. If it proves to be feasible, we will issue a ministerial statement so that it can be used to bring ease to the farmers.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Sing’ombe (Dundumwezi): Madam Speaker, you have indicated that we should not ask about grain bags. However, in one of his answers, the hon. Minister indicated that the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) cannot buy maize using the bags that the farmers are using, which are not very strong, and I agree with him 100 per cent. Now, the empty grain bags that the farmers are using are locally made. What then is the ministry doing to ensure that the manufacturers produce quality grain bags? Right now, a farmer is incurring huge costs because of the bad quality grain bags.


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, I sympathise with the hon. Member for Dundumwezi.


Madam Speaker, it is a question of pricing. The bags that the FRA buys, for argument’s sake, will cost about K17 each for it to be UV stabilised, anti-slip and have the right grammes. Si, it is quite an expensive bag. The bags that you and I normally buy, on the other hand, will cost us about K5 or K6. So, the standard bags that the FRA buys are found on the market, but they are expensive, and the manufacturers reduce on their production because of low demand.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Mabeta (Kankoyo): Madam Speaker, yesterday, I happened to pass through one of the depots where the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) is buying maize in Kansuswa, in Mufulira, and it is a sad story to see the losses we are incurring as a country due to damage of maize.


Madam Speaker in line with the President’s directive for us to stop calling our customers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) smugglers, is the hon. Minister considering allowing our people to start exporting maize so that we do not waste what we have already gained?


Mr M. Phiri: Thank you, hon. Member, for that input, which is very important.


Yes, you are free, as a farmer, an aggregator, a group or a society, to export. That is why we said the FRA has been allowed to export 450,000 metric tonnes. Another 450,000 metric tonnes is there for members of the Grain Traders Association of Zambia (GTAZ) and non-members alike to export. So, if you want to export maize, come tomorrow to the office and we will expressly give you an export permit so that we can help the poor farmers, who need people like the hon. Members here to help them export.


Thank you, Madam Speaker.


Hon. UPND Members: Hear, hear!


Madam Speaker gave the Floor to Mr Mapani, but he was unavailable.




5. Mr Kamboni (Kalomo Central) asked the Minister of Agriculture:


  1. whether the Government is aware that maize in satellite depots in Kalomo Central Parliamentary Constituency has not been transferred to the main storage depot because transporters have not been paid; and
  2. if so, what urgent measures the Government is taking to ensure that the maize in the satellite depots does not go to waste


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, the Government is aware that 18,736 metric tonnes of maize is yet to be moved to the main holding depot in Kalomo. This quantity is being held at various satellite depots in Kalomo District, including the depots in Kalomo Central Constituency.


Madam Speaker, the Government is making efforts to ensure that the transporters across the country are paid so that the maize can be secured before the onset of heavy rainfall. The Ministry of Finance and National Planning, as earlier indicated, has since released funds to pay some of the transporters so that they may expedite the transportation of the maize to safer storage before the maize is damaged.


Thank you, Madam Speaker.


Ms Kasune (Keembe): Hon. Minister, my question is in relation to what is happening in Kalomo. Listening to your response, I heard you say that the transporters will be paid so that they can transport the maize to different places. To what extent do we hold accountable some of the transporters who were paid, but did not do the job that they were required to do? Maybe, they can be used this time so that they can meet their obligations for which they were already paid, as was the case in some places in Keembe, Kalomo and other places.


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, if there are hon. Members who know transporters who were paid, but have not done the jobs they were contracted to do, I earnestly ask to be assisted with the names of those transporters so that I can follow up on them because we are struggling to pay transporters, yet, as it has been indicated, some transporters who were paid did not do the job.


Madam Speaker, I thank you.


Mr Sing’ombe: Hon. Minister, is there any deliberate policy between your ministry and the Ministry of Housing, Infrastructure and Urban Development to make it easy for you to reach places like Chibomboma in Kalomo Central and Kasukwe in Dundumwezi, which you can hardly reach even if you paid transporters to go and collect maize there? What are you doing about the roads that service such agricultural areas to ensure that the maize at the satellite depots dotted around those areas is quickly transported to safety? Probably, some people failed to collect the maize because of non-existence of roads.


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Member for Dundumwezi for reminding us that for maize marketing to succeed, we need to have serviceable feeder roads, and I am sure that as we debate the Budget, these are issues that we should look at, among other issues. We should request to have feeder roads worked on so that when it is time to procure maize, we will be able to reach all the centres. I will discuss this with the hon. Minister responsible for roads so that, maybe, the roads in the areas the hon. Member has mentioned in Dundumwezi can be worked on before they become completely impassable.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Kamboni: Hon. Minister, at Choonga Depot in Kalomo Central, there is one farmer who telephoned me this morning to tell me that his maize has been at the depot without being bought since July because of a lack of grain bags. Further, in the past two days, it has rained twice in Kalomo, Sipatunyana and Siachitema areas, and people’s maize has been soaked. Could you assure the farmers that something will be done? There is a lot of maize in the depots. For instance, one depot in Sipatunyana has more than 7,000 bags, and the farmers are waiting for empty grain bags, and the maize got soaked. So, the farmers are very worried. To compound the problems, they have to watch over their maize in the night and during the day to ensure that nobody steals it. Could the Government, please, be quick in procuring the grain bags so that the farmers are relieved of this pressure and enabled to do other things? Farmers would like to know when all will be sorted out so that they can do other things.


Madam Speaker: The hon. Minister has answered that question adequately. If the hon. Member for Kalomo Central still has issues, I suggest that he visits the hon. Minister to discuss the issue further.


Mr Chaatila (Moomba): Hon. Minister, you have indicated that the problem of transporters not having been paid is not unique to Kalomo, as it is countrywide, and that it is affecting almost all depots. How much money is needed by your ministry, through the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), to dismantle the backlog so that the transporters can get back on their feet and start working?


Mr Phiri: Madam Speaker, let me answer this question in its generality. For the FRA to pay for the empty grain bags, transport and maize, it needs slightly above K1 billion. The amount is that significant. Whatever we receive, we will put aside a portion for the transporters. It is not in a normal business fashion that I can stand here and say there is K60 million for the transporters because we will create a scramble and a problem. The FRA knows how best and whom to give so that maize is moved. So, all I can say is that we need over K1 billion to dismantle the debt.


Madam Speaker, I thank you.




6.Mr Kamboni asked the Minister of Agriculture:


  1. whether the Government has any plans to increase the amount of money allocated to farmers countrywide under the Farmer Input Support Programme before the 2021/2022 Farming Season, considering the increase in the price of fertiliser; and
  2. if so, when the plans will be implemented.


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, the Government has plans to reform FISP, as was highlighted by the President during the Official Opening of the First Session of Thirteenth National Assembly. The review will require a detailed evaluation of the programme in order to make effective changes, which may include changes to the subsidy value. However, for the 2021/2022 Farming Season, only a plan to adjust the value for farmers under the Electronic Voucher (e-Voucher) System is under consideration. The House and the nation at large will be notified once the analysis is concluded and a decision made.


Madam Speaker, the plans will be implemented once the review is completed and the details will be communicated in due course.


Madam Speaker, I thank you.


Mr Fube (Chilubi): Madam Speaker, could the hon. Minister confirm that there is a delay in the distribution of farming inputs because the Government has decided to conduct an audit to see if there are certain grey areas that need to be clarified before the distribution of inputs can start.


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, I require your guidance because a question that is about to be asked is precisely on that subject. Unless you ask me to, I will not answer it so that I am not in conflict with the question that the hon. Member for Kalomo Central has asked.


I thank you, Madam.


Madam Speaker: The hon. Member for Chilubi will hold on to that question and ask it in the next question.


Mr Chaatila: Hon. Minister, the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) has been a disaster for a long time and a catastrophe for our farmers, as it has caused a lot of poverty in this country in places where it is being implemented. Looking at the market prices for fertiliser this year, our farmers will get just one bag in some cases. Is it possible for the ministry to consider this as a disaster so that in the short-term, our farmers can be helped to get as little as four bags of fertiliser per voucher?


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, I would like the hon. Member to note that the previous Government rolled the purchase of inputs for two years into this season. Therefore, the fertiliser for this season is already purchased, and the members under FISP, especially those on the Direct Input Supply System, will not be affected by any price changes because the fertiliser was already procured and the price is fixed. Their contribution is also fixed, and we will give them what they have always got. The members who will get affected are those on the e-Voucher System when getting inputs from the open market. That is what we are reviewing so that we can equalise the situation and not disadvantage those on the e-Voucher System. That is why I said that the system is being reviewed.


I thank you, Madam.


Mr Malambo: Hon. Minister, if I may say it, it was a culture under the previous Government for farmers in some regions to get more bags than those in other regions. How quickly is the ministry working to ensure that most of our farmers get the same number of bags of fertiliser? If so, how many bags of fertiliser are the farmers likely to get this season?


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, this is a very important question. It is exactly what I defined under the other question.


Madam Speaker, we are working on equalising the e-Voucher System and the Direct Input Supply System. The Direct Input Supply System is one in which a farmer receives fertiliser whereas the e-Voucher System is one in which a farmer goes to a shop and redeems his e-Voucher. It is these farmers who were affected, and the system was implemented in the Southern and North-Western provinces, and part of the Western Province. Like I said, we are working on equalising the two systems so that no farmer will be disadvantaged. Once that is done, I will state exactly how many bags of fertiliser each farmer will get.


I thank you, Madam.


Madam Speaker: The hon. Member for Kasama Central.


Ms S. Mwamba: Madam Speaker, my question has been overtaken by events.


Mr Mwila (Mufulira): Madam Speaker, I will speak specifically for Mufulira, but I know that many other areas are affected countrywide.


Madam Speaker, in Mufulira, we have co-operatives that completed all the formalities and qualified to benefit from the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), specifically on the Electronic Voucher (e-Voucher) System, in the past one or two years, but they have not benefited from the programme. Further, the hon. Minister has mentioned that a review of the programme is being undertaken. Will there be an increase in the number of beneficiaries so that those who applied and met all the criteria also benefit from input support in the 2021/2022 Farming Season?


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, that is another very important question, and I would like the hon. Members to get my response very clearly. The current FISP arrangement is not going to be changed at all. We are only going to carry on with what our friends, the previous Government, were doing. We are just going to add value and make sure that there is equity between the beneficiaries on the e-Voucher System and those on the Direct Input Supply System. No co-operatives other than those that have already paid will be considered, and no new farmers will be supported other than those who are already in the system. New farmers will be considered for next season. For this season, it is fixed.


Madam Speaker, I want to repeat that the purchases from the fertiliser supply companies were rolled over up to this season. So, there is nothing whatsoever that we can do. We are not in control of the fertiliser or seed prices. There is also absolutely nothing we can do about the number of farmers. We are only going to add value to the system that we found, and the value addition will be in terms of making the system equal in that what a farmer will get under the e-Voucher System will be equal to what a farmer will get under the Direct Input Supply System.


I thank you, Madam.


Mr Michelo (Bweengwa): Hon. Minister, how many bags of fertiliser were farmers getting under the Direct Input Supply System and under the Electronic Voucher (e-Voucher) System, respectively? I am ask this question so that the country can know the difference between the two.


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, let me add a little value to the hon. Member’s question.


Madam Speaker, it is difficult to state how many bags of fertiliser the farmers under the e-Voucher System got because they were free to get fertiliser where they chose. So, one could get the fertiliser at K2,000, K800 or K400. Under the Direct Input Supply System, on average, the farmers were getting about K6,000 more than those under the e-Voucher System, and that is what we want to equalise. So, it is not a question of how many bags the farmers got.


Madam Speaker, the simple answer to the hon. Member is that under the Direct Input Supply System, farmers got six bags each, three for top dressing and the other three for basal dressing. In terms of the e-Vulture System, the number of bags depended on the price at which the farmer got under the e-Voucher System. Therefore, the comparison becomes difficult. However, there was the bags from the supplier. So, it is difficult to compare the two systems. However, there was a difference of between K4,000 and K6,000 between the two categories of farmers. So, it was grossly unfair, and we want to equalise it.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Mutinta: Hon. Minister, you have elaborated that there may not be any significant changes in the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) for 2021/2022. I need more clarity on that because in my constituency, there have been many questions regarding the irregularities among this year’s beneficiaries who deposited their money. Is there any room for cleaning up the process between now and the time of distribution of inputs so that we enhance accountability and transparency in the selection of beneficiaries to enable the right people benefit?


Madam Speaker, maybe, another recommendation for next year is that the beneficiaries be listed on a notice board so that everyone knows them. Currently, there is chaos, as one person might benefit four times. How do we enhance accountability and transparency, and ensure that the right people benefit from this scheme?


Madam Speaker: Hon. Minister of Agriculture, answer, although the question is very general.


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, I will attempt to respond to the question.


Madam Speaker, we can give out the names of all the benefiting clubs. However, I want to repeat that it is not possible to change the recipients because the farmers and clubs have already paid. We are going to deal with clubs that were already registered. However, in terms of stating how many people are on the programme, yes, we can do that because it is public information. We can place the information on the notice board at the agricultural offices.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Kampyongo (Shiwang’andu) Madam Speaker, I appreciate the responses from the hon. Minister of Agriculture, and I must confirm that the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) is one of the important programmes we inherited and, of course, made some improvements to by introducing platforms like the Electronic Voucher (e-Voucher) System.


Madam Speaker, one of the factors that were considered when rolling out the e-Voucher System was the effect of climate change. We know that some of our regions, such as Southern and Western provinces, are prone to droughts. Therefore, the e-Voucher System was created to give farmers options in terms of the type of inputs they could get in a particular season, for example, when regions were hit by droughts. How is the hon. Minister working closely with the new Ministry of Green Economy and Environment to ensure that there is not only the aspect of equalising, as we are putting it, across areas, some of which have guaranteed adequate rainfall, such as the northern and other regions, while others are prone to droughts, but also ensuring that farmers are given options in terms of the inputs they access in line with weather patterns?


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, I agree in totality with the hon. Member for Shiwang’andu. When deciding the areas to put on the e-Voucher and Direct Input Supply (DIS) systems, ecological factors were taken into very serious consideration. Apparently, the e-Voucher System was given to areas I mentioned earlier because of the flexibility it offered in terms of what the farmer could do, as the farmer was not confined to getting fertiliser, but could venture into other agricultural activities like breeding rabbits. However, that does not justify the difference in the value. So, I maintain that we will try to equalise the support farmers get under the two systems. So, I think the two considerations are definitely separate. However, if the hon. Member would like to help me understand more, he is free to meet me and do so. I might also help him to understand the issue more. The equalisation has to be done because we cannot allow that disparity.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Ngowani (Mpongwe): Madam Speaker, the previous Government introduced legumes as an extra pack to farmers, which only benefitted a small number of people. What is the position of the ministry on this issue?


Madam Speaker: Question 4, which is being considered right now, is whether there are any plans by the Government to increase the amount of money allocated to farmers countrywide under the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP)  and, if so, when those plans will be implemented. So, this question about legumes is not related to the principal question. Maybe, the hon. Member can to file it in as a separate question, and we make progress. 


Mr E. Daka (Msanzala): When are the old co-operatives going to graduate? I am sure that this exercise is not perpetual. The co-operatives need to graduate at one point so that new ones can also benefit.


Madam Speaker: Hon. Member for Msanzala, this question, again, is not related to the question that is being considered here. Maybe, you can reserve it for another time. You can file in a question.


Mr Nyambose: Madam Speaker, I do not know if my question will be related to the question on the Floor, but I feel it is very important.


Madam Speaker, you may recall that I described the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) as a national scandal, and I stick to that. Before we increase the FISP amount, is the hon. Minister aware of the abuse of the programme, whereby our vulnerable farmers have been denied the opportunity to get the real pack? Is he aware that the people who benefit from the current FISP are not the intended beneficiaries? For example, is the hon. Minister aware that in each co-operative in Chasefu gives a pack each to camp officers and members of the Community Agriculture Committee (CACs), who are not entitled to them? If the hon. Minister is aware, what is he doing to streamline the administration of the programme?


Madam Speaker: Hon. Member for Chasefu, the question is whether the Government has any plans to increase the amount of money allocated to farmers countrywide under the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) before the 2021/2022 Farming Season, considering the increase in the price of fertiliser and, if so, when the plans will be implemented. So, I suggest that you ask the hon. Minister that question later or that you visit him and get clarification. In short, the question does not qualify as a supplementary question.


Ms Nyirenda (Lundazi): Madam Speaker, my question falls off as well because I wanted to ask about some people who have been on the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) perpetually until the died. I wanted to know what the hon. Minister does with the packs meant for individuals who die during the season.


Madam Speaker: Again, you can ask the hon. Minister that question later because he might not be ready to answer it right now. He will need to research and gather information.


Mr Munsanje (Mbabala): Madam Speaker, I congratulate the hon. Minister of Agriculture on the elaborate answers. My question is: Will the increase in the number of farmers and funding include persons with disabilities and the vulnerable, who are currently left out on account of being on the Social Cash Transfer Programme?


Madam Speaker: Again, that question is not related to the Principal Question. You can file in a question later because it would not be fair for me to ask the hon. Minister to respond because he has not prepared sufficiently for the question.


The last question will be from the hon. Member for Namwala.


Mr Mapani: Madam Speaker, will the people on the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) ever graduate or will they continue enjoying the facility forever? There are people who have been on the programme for a long time. Does the ministry intend to allow people to graduate after a certain period?


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, the answer is ‘Yes’, and that is going to happen next season. I assure the nation and the House that after this season, there is going to be a very serious review of FISP and the beneficiaries will be seriously checked. So, there will be a huge change of recipients next season, and I thank the hon. Member for Namwala for this question.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.




7. Mr Kamboni asked the Minister of Agriculture:


  1. when the distribution of farming inputs under the Farmer Input Support Programme for the 2021/2022 Farming Season will commence countrywide; and
  2. what the cause of the delay in distributing the farming inputs is.


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, the Government will commence the input distribution exercise under FISP in October, 2021. God willing and all things being equal, we must be flagging off the exercise sometime next week because the audit programme should be completed, probably, by this week.


Madam Speaker, the delay in commencing the exercise is due to an audit exercise currently under way. The audit is aimed at verifying the input quantities delivered to the districts by the contracted suppliers in order to compare with the reports that the suppliers have been submitting. The ministry is also working towards equalising the value of inputs redeemed by farmers under the e-Voucher System modality with their counterparts under the DIS modality.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Fube: Madam Speaker, as I stated earlier, my question was on the audit. I think the hon. Minister has already said what the ministry aims to do, especially on the supply side. However, my interest is more on the demand side, where there have been many questions, and where the clients who are in the co-operatives are. When the audit is done, and I am sure the audit report is out, will it not distort certain things within the cycle of supply? For instance, if the audit report reveals that the camp officers have also been getting certain things, because the audit is also linked to such, will there be a change of direction, especially on the FISP, not the e-Voucher System?


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, the hon. Member who is asking the question is actually very aware, from the way he is asking his question, that an audit is meant to bring to the fore what we do not know or what we suspect could be happening. It is a corrective measure. So, whichever way you look at it, an audit will merely add, not subtract, value to the programme.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Mr Mundubile: Hon. Minister, without underplaying the importance of the audit that you have referred to, have you made an assessment of the costs, benefits and risks of the delay that may be occasioned by the audit? We are looking at food security and are saying the audit is very important, but any undue delay might land us into food insecurity, going forward. How is the ministry managing the delicate balance?


Mr M. Phiri: Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Leader of the Opposition for this very important question.


Madam Speaker, definitely a cost-benefit analysis was done. If we look at the very high value of FISP, I think that the audit is important and that its benefit could most likely outweigh the costs, if there will be any. Further, like I said, we expect the audit to be through by the weekend and that, all things being equal, we are praying very hard that we will be able to flag off the input distribution exercise sometime next week, in which time we will still be in some comfortable zone in most parts of Zambia in terms of planting. So, we are very aware of those concerns, but the country should bear with us. The amounts of money involved in FISP are huge. No wonder, previously, the National Agriculture Marketing Board (NAMBOARD) had its own budget and was able to manage things much better.


I thank you, Madam Speaker.


Madam Speaker: Order!


(Debate adjourned)




The House adjourned at 1840 hours until 1430 hours on Wednesday, 6th October, 2021.