By Bennie Mundando

MILLERS Association of Zambia (MAZ) president Andrew Chintala and his surrogates must shut up than exposing their high levels of ignorance on agriculture matters, the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) has charged.

A bitter exchange of words has ensued between MAZ and ZNFU after the union on Sunday issued a statement in which it said it has unearthed a scam where some civil servants, including camp officers and District Commissioners (DCs), have been threatening farmers of being blacklisted from accessing inputs under the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) if they do not sell their maize to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).

ZNFU further said it is investigating reports where millers have allegedly been instructed not to buy maize at a price beyond what the FRA is offering of K110 maize for a 50kg bag at farm gate.

But Mr. Chintala described ZNFU’s statement as dangerous and malicious and urged the union to concentrate on its own organisation’s matters as opposed to damaging other organisations’ businesses.

However, this has riled the ZNFU who have now told Mr. Chintala and his surrogates in no uncertain terms to shut up instead of exposing their ignorance in public.

In a statement signed by ZNFU media and public relations manager Calvin Kaleyi made available to The Scoop this morning, the union has asked Mr. Chintala not to talk about things he does not understand.

“The ZNFU is extremely disappointed with the MAZ president and his surrogates for exhibiting high levels of ignorance on agriculture matters to the public. The MAZ president is better off shutting up than talk about things that he does not understand. We warned the MAZ president two years ago to stop exposing his ignorance on issues of agriculture, but he does not learn lessons.

“Our statement which reads in part, clearly states that and we quote; “ZNFU is also investigating reports where millers have been instructed not to buy maize at a price beyond what the FRA is offering of K110 for 50kg bag of maize at farm gate …” We did not talk about mill prices.

“Why is the MAZ president jumpy, when we have clearly stated that we are investigating reports? Why is he afraid that we investigate these reports? To investigate means to probe, study, scrutinize, or examine, just to lecture him on this term. For the record, we have been receiving reports from our District Farmers’ Associations (DFAs) around the country, which we are further investigating, or studying the matter. What is wrong with us investigating these reports?” Mr. Kaleyi asked.

He has wondered why the MAZ president and his surrogates talk about targets when it has not been mandated by Government to meet any targets.

“Why speak on behalf of Government and the FRA when he is neither the spokesperson for Government nor the FRA, nor is he an agent of Government? We do understand that his ignorance is perpetuated by his surrogates for personal gain. The Union will from now on expose the MAZ president in any way possible.

“The MAZ president’s statement is malicious and should be dismissed with the contempt it deserves as he is meddling in issues that affect farmer growth and national food security. He clearly does not support the plight or cause of farmers but that of his and his surrogates’.

“We shall not allow our farmers to be taken advantage of by individuals that barely have the knowledge of agriculture. The Union will always stand for the truth and nothing but the truth,” he said.

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