Thursday, April 04, 2013

Brace for hunger disaster, Mweetwa urges govt
By Moses Kuwema and Edwin Mbulo in Livingstone
Thu 04 Apr. 2013, 14:00 CAT

Choma Central UPND member of parliament Cornelius Mweetwa says the government should brace and prepare for a national disaster in terms of hunger.

And Mweetwa says Choma is likely to be the true economic hub of Southern Province if the developments that have been earmarked are implemented.

Meanwhile, the tourist capital has been hit with varying prices of mealie-meal as traders are transporting the commodity into Zimbabwe.

In an interview, Mweetwa said it was important for the government to prepare before hand for a national disaster and declare Zambia a disaster zone.

"This is a timely caution to our colleagues now as they begin to appropriate resources, those that were not budgeted for in the budget not to start allocating them unnecessary. The trail of destruction the rainy season has left is something else. The maize crop for 2012-2013 has terribly failed as a result of the erratic rain. This is also as a result of failure to deliver agro inputs on time because the few farmers who have a little food are those who had personal money and bought inputs," he said.

Mweetwa said quick intervention measures needed to be put in place and the little maize that the country had in terms of stock should be taken care of.

"All these exports should be halted otherwise the country will be in a terrible crisis. We are not prepared to eat yellow maize again," he said.

And Mweetwa said the Choma Municipal Council had received overwhelming response from people who applied for plots and that the response was triggered by the town's new status of provincial capital.

"They want to come and invest in Choma. I am very happy with the response from the people of this country. Choma is likely to become the true economic hub of the province as it is already centrally located. I want to appeal to businesses, especially those that are Zambian owned that the people of Choma are calling for industries in order to promote job creation and to promote value addition. Choma being an agriculture area produces a lot of crops and a lot of beef, pork and other animal related products are found here in Choma," he said.

Mweetwa said this would help in turning Choma into a city and not a mere provincial capital.

And a check around Livingstone's main business trading area revealed a glaring supply inadequacy with town centre Shoprite outlet having no 25 kilogramme bags of both breakfast and roller meal as at 10:20 hours on Tuesday while a check at Spar revealed only breakfast meal in stock.

The mealie meal prices although up to the recommended K55 for a 25 kilogramme of breakfast meal varied with Shoprite town centre outlet displaying a price tag of K49.99 while roller meal was pegged at K44.49.

A merchandising officer for Shoprite town centre outlet found near the mealie-meal stand who preferred anonymity said the two bags of roller meal which were displayed were damaged ones and that he was not sure when the shop was to receive new supplies.

The Shoprite outlet had in stock 2.5 kilograms of breakfast mealie-meal pegged at K6.68 5 kilogramme bags of breakfast meal at K12.48 and roller meal at K7.78.

At Spar near Mazhandu bus station a merchandising officer said the outlet had just increased the prices of the commodity to K55 for breakfast mealie-meal.

Asked about roller mea, the merchandising officer said there was a track offloading the commodity and was yet to be briefed on the new price.

At Falls Supermarket formerly Associated Stores, breakfast and roller meal from National Milling and Munsanza Milling were available all pegged at K55 and K49 for breakfast and roller meal respectively.
A check at the Victoria Falls border revealed a hand full of cyclists who had mealie-meal and charcoal bags covered in black plastics so as to cross over into neighbouring Zimbabwe with ease.

And when contacted for a comment, Livingstone district commissioner, Omar Munsanje said he was in Choma and would assess the situation upon his return to Livingstone.

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