Angry Chipata farmers protest delayed inputs
By Machelenga Phiri in Chipata
ANGRY farmers in Chipata on Tuesday protested at the Eastern Province administration office over the continued delay to have their e-voucher cards activated for them to access farming inputs.
Meanwhile, Chipata district commissioner Kalunga Zulu says the government has immediately released money to farmers’ cooperative accounts through BancABC.
The farmers, who regretted voting for the PF in last year’s
elections, blocked the road leading to BancABC whilst waiting for
their e-vouchers to be activated.
The farmers, who earlier stormed the provincial administration office, sang anti-government songs and complained that there was no money in their e-vouchers as promised by Eastern Province minister Makebi Zulu last Friday.
“We are here, we want the permanent secretary Chanda Kasolo to address us and we are not going to leave this place without money in our vouchers. We are just from BancABC, there is no money. The provincial minister told us on Friday that everyone will be sorted out by Tuesday meaning today,” said a visibly angry farmer, Jacob Phiri.
During the ensuing confusion, uniformed and plain clothed police
officers kept vigil to ensure the situation did not get out of hand.
Another farmer, Saukani Banda, who attended a two-hour closed door meeting in Kasolo’s office, said there was confirmation that the over 7, 700 e-voucher cards for Chipata farmers would be activated.
“Yes, PS called Lusaka who explained that farmers will have their
vouchers activated today (Tuesday) and we must go to the bank now,” said Banda.
And in an interview after the meeting with farmers, Zulu said the delay by government to activate farmers’ e-voucher cards was due to logistic problems.
“The delay is due to logistical problems. Those in Lusaka had another list of farmers different from the list we have here. And when we talked to our friends in Lusaka there, they indicated that the list they started working on now will start with these people,” said Zulu.
By 16:00 hours on Tuesday, some farmers were still at the bank waiting for the activation of their e-voucher cards.