Wed, 18 Jan 2017 10:15:45 +0000

IT IS amazing how far some Zambians entrusted with the onerous responsibility of ensuring the security, safety and peace of this nation will go to compromise their responsibilities and betray the country for 30 pieces of silver.

The other day we were ticking off farmers and civil servants conniving to make money from the Farmer Input Support Programme and the E-voucher VISA cards. This is a key Government programme that makes the difference between a bumper harvest this year or hunger and poverty.

But these merciless money mongers will stop at nothing to ensure that they benefit at the expense of national interest.

They ganged up to divert agricultural inputs from genuine beneficiaries and sell them to briefcase businessmen who hang around farming blocs like vultures and will pounce at anything that smells money. All of them steal from the Government, not knowing they are stealing from themselves.

Now we have the potentially grave health emergency where meat inspectors and veterinary officers in Western Province risk a serious national catastrophe by allowing uninspected and uncertified beef and other livestock products to be off-loaded on the Lusaka market.

According to Livestock and Fisheries permanent secretary David Shamunenge, meat products being transported from Mongu and other districts heading for the line of rail are not inspected and issued with the correct certified documents to show that they were safe to consume and could be sold to the public as the law demands.

Dr Shamunenge says he was shocked that some of his officers were deliberately breaking the law and compromising the tough veterinary control measures of transporting  beef and meat products by not abiding to procedure which compels them to issue clearance and transportation documents for beef carcases from Western Province.

It is alleged that the officers were being bribed by unscrupulous meat traders to ignore the meticulous inspection of meat moving from one province to another for deadly cattle infections such as anthrax, CBPP and foot and mouth disease.

The incredible reality of this seemingly administrative ‘‘error’’ is that these heartless, irresponsible officers know that they are exposing the country to an unimaginable risk far beyond a layman’s understanding. The Western Province is technically the buffer zone between Zambia and one of the most deadly airborne cattle diseases – CBPP, which is endemic in our western neighbouring country – that can wipe out thousands of livestock here within weeks if allowed to reach the country’s interior.

It is such a huge economic threat that the Zambian Government has for the past 50 years spent millions of Kwacha to man the buffer zone between Zambia and Angola and each time CBPP breaks out in the region, no veterinary officer will sleep until the disease is eradicated.

This is why Dr Shamunenge is shocked that his offers can be so careless, or is it sabotage, as to permit uninspected meat products which could carry the CBPP virus into the heart of Zambia.

An alarmed Dr Shamunenge said yesterday: ‘‘I will not, in fact Government will not, tolerate officers compromising the quality of beef transported to Lusaka from Western Province…..We cannot allow this to go on like this. We shall deal with this matter and that is the reason I am visiting this province.’’

A few years ago there was national panic when it was reported that someone was importing beef and offals laced with a certain drug used in medical circles to preserve bodies during transportation. It was such a big fuss that even the Government was asked to account how they could allow such a thing to happen.

Compared to what health inspectors and veterinary officers in Western Province are doing, this was a child’s play. Anthrax, which has just broken out in the region, is deadly and anyone eating anthrax-contaminated meat risks certain death.

But this is nothing to our money-hungry civil servants whose primary duty is presumably to defend, protect and secure the lives of Zambian citizens. Like Judas Iscariot, it seems every Zambian Government worker has a price.


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