Party smugglers

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 10:53:01 +0000

 

THE ruling Patriotic Front secretariat must follow up the case of the named party official or officials caught by the Zambia National Service (ZNS) in North Western Province trying to smuggle 4,000 bags of mealie meal in six trucks in Mushindano district near the border with DR Congo.

Zambians are shocked that at a time Government has sealed the country’s borders to ensure that not a single grain of maize meal leaves the country to preserve national food security, some unpatriotic citizens are busy scheming how to make a fast buck at the expense of national interest.

We cannot believe that a senior party official can load six trucks with mealie meal and try to swipe them across the border when Government has banned the export of maize and its products because the country does not have enough stocks to share with others.

What is even more unbelievable is that some Ministry of Agriculture officers are forging maize and mealie meal export permits under the pretext that they have been signed by the Mushindano district governor to help smugglers take the commodity across the border. This must be a highly organized racket which has been going on for some time.

And when the district governor stepped in to block the racketeers, he is threatened by party officials who are no doubt the masterminds behind the scam, using their political muscle to protect the smugglers.

We call on the security wings to investigate this matter thoroughly and bring the culprits to book. There is no way 4,000 bags of mealie meal could reach the border without leaving a trail behind. Who bought this mealie meal? For what purpose and to whom do those trucks the smugglers were using belong?

Even assuming the mealie meal belongs to non-Zambians, there is no way foreigners can buy so much of the commodity on their own without help from inside the country. Which milling company supplied that mealie meal to one individual or group when there is a ban on bulk buying of the commodity to prevent smuggling?

The scam could only be possible because some selfish officials in Government and the ruling party abused their offices to stockpile 4,000 bags intended for smuggling. They had to threaten the DC of the border town where the mealie meal was going in a bid to intimidate and scare him off so that he can turn a blind eye to what was going on.

We applaud Mushindano district governor Benson Ngambo for standing his ground for what is right and defend national interest regardless of the consequences and the risk involved. We wish we had more of such incorruptible Government officials in the civil service who are content to survive on their meagre salaries and are prepared to risk their lives to do their job.

Reacting to the pressure exerted on him by the wicked men and women to buckle to their demands, Mr Ngambo said: ‘‘I want to state categorically here that I don’t report to the party; I report to the permanent secretary and His Excellency the President. If anything the party was supposed to be in the forefront in helping curb the vice.’’

Mr Ngambo must not accept to be intimidated by corrupt party officials abusing their offices for personal gain. We are glad that he has written to the provincial permanent secretary Ephraim Mateyo to complain about the threats he has been receiving from senior party officials in Solwezi who are no doubt the big fish behind the racket.

We can only hope that the DC’s report is comprehensive and he has named the culprits and method they were using to smuggle the commodity.

So, if the PF secretariat in Lusaka wants to know the truth they have the DC and the PS as sources of credible information on which to track down the party smugglers who are painting the ruling party black. These officials do not deserve to be called ‘‘leaders’’.

They are as detestable as the armyworms and stalk borers, which they really are.

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