Category: Opinions

The ongoing debate about whether to abolish or keep FISP

The ongoing debate about whether to abolish or keep FISP Featured

It is very important to understand what we want to achieve with FISP. This requires looking at two critical components of the intended purpose and assessing whether they achieve it or not.

Before proceeding with the initial intended objectives, we need to pose this question: is FISP aimed at increasing crop production or is it a poverty alleviation programme, such as social cash transfer, to support vulnerable peasant farmers and their families to ensure food security?

The FISP guidelines, which also mention that farmers should graduate after three years of being on the programme to medium-scale farmers, indicate that the programme was intended to enhance crop production and facilitate the progression of farmers from peasantry to small-scale, then medium-scale, and finally to commercial farming.

Let’s assess the practicality of its intended objective. If a farmer receives six bags of fertiliser per year at K1,000 per bag, then the assistance at a monthly average is K500 per month. With this level of support for direct input only – ignoring all other production costs and personal responsibilities – is it practical that such support can graduate a farmer from peasantry to commercial farming? Unless a miracle happens the farmer will permanently remain in the peasantry category. This explains why farmers have remained on the programme for prolonged periods beyond three years. If FISP was intended to grow crop production then it was ill structured and should be canned.

However, a positive unintended consequence of FISP is that it provides government support to peasant farmers who comprise the biggest segment of our maize production, but cannot afford fertiliser due to its high cost. Effectively, peasant farmers plant crops for their own consumption and sell the excess production to commercial players in order to generate income to sustain their livelihoods, including paying school fees and medical bills and meeting family needs. These farmers don’t qualify for commercial loans because they aren’t creditworthy. So, in a nutshell, with unintended consequences FISP is actually a social protection programme and not a crop production growth strategy. It should be classified in the same category as social cash transfer.

So before we say scrap or keep FISP, we need to understand these dynamics. And most importantly, before farmers are removed for being on the programme for more than three years, we need to understand that given the meagre support of six bags a year, it is impractical for peasant farmers to graduate to higher categories, including commercial levels, because the support received is insignificant. If anything, this is a segment which has a low crop yield per acre because at its best it is an ox driven, rain fed method of agriculture, and at its worst a hoe and rain fed method of crop production. If the support is removed it will just increase poverty levels in rural areas.

In conclusion, FISP should be maintained as a social protection programme. If scrapped, food security for our vulnerable peasant farmers will be compromised. What the government should do is clean up the FISP database and ensure the correct, vulnerable people are kept on the programme.

With regard to enhancing food production, it is necessary to come up with a totally new strategy driven by enabling policies. Most importantly, credit support should be readily available at affordable interest rates. Technical support and access to mechanised farming should be at the centre of this initiative, including irrigation rather than rain-fed methods.

Fred M’membe

President of the Socialist Party

Hichilema is dividing SADC

Hichilema is dividing SADC Featured

The SADC Troika consists of Zambia (the chairperson), Tanzania (the deputy chairperson, and Namibia (the immediate past chairperson).

The leaders of Tanzania and Namibia have both congratulated President Mnangagwa on his re-election. President Cyril Ramaphosa has done the same. But Mr Hakainde Hichilema is yet to do so because the candidate he reportedly supported lost the election.

The man he unilaterally chose, Mr Nevers Mumba, to represent him in Zimbabwe’s election released a discredited and biased preliminary report that is likely to be thrown out at the next SADC meeting because both Mr Hichilema and Mr Mumba could not declare interest.

Why did Mr Hichilema, in his capacity as incoming chair of the Troika, appoint Mr Nevers Mumba to head the SADC Electoral Observer Mission (SEOM), given his known and close ties to both Mr Nelson Chamisa, one of the presidential candidates in the just ended Zimbabwean election, and to Hichilema, who himself is very close to the CCC leader?

I use the term “incoming” deliberately because Mr Hichilema, at the time he announced the appointment of Mr Mumba on 14 August 2023, was not yet chairperson of the SADC Troika on Politics, Defence and Security. The President of Namibia was still the chairperson at the time. Mr Hichilema only formally assumed the leadership of the Organ three days later, on 17 August 2023, at the 43rd Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government in Luanda, Angola.

Although the ultra-urgency that Mr Hichilema demonstrated when appointing Mr Mumba is in itself curious, what is most striking and raises questions about his judgement was the choice of a person whose impartiality was always going to be questioned to lead the Mission. Why not appoint someone who won’t give ZANU-PF reason to discredit the Mission’s findings – however legitimate they may be?

What criteria was used to appoint Mr Mumba? If it was because of his role as former vice-president of Zambia, what disqualified the several other ex-veeps of Zambia who are still alive? If it was because of his role as opposition MMD president, what disqualified the several other leaders of opposition parties in Zambia?

Why did Mr Hichilema choose Mr Nevers Mumba to lead the SEOM to Zimbabwe? What particular individual qualities did Mr Mumba have that other former vice-presidents and opposition leaders in Zambia lacked? Was Mr Mumba really the best candidate for such a sensitive role that requires utmost levels of impartiality and maturity? Had Mr Hichilema exercised caution in his choice of the person he appointed to lead the Mission and understood that the credibility of its report rests on the credibility of its membership, the apparent or emerging divisions within the Troika – and potentially within the SADC itself – may have have been avoided.

But that is how betrayal is; hypocrisy, treachery and ignorance can be a very big a problem but they all have limits to their power and influence. What Mr Hichilema forgot was that he could only masquerade or present his fake image to the region and the world for a short period before shame visited him.

Clearly, hiding his true identity as an imperialist puppet has lamentably failed. We hope he has learnt something from this mistake.

Fred M’membe
President of the Socialist Party [Zambia]

One bad term doesn’t deserve another, Hichilema aleya!

One bad term doesn’t deserve another, Hichilema aleya! Featured

We were back at the police yesterday because Mr Hakainde Hichilema and his far-right corrupt, puppet regime is being haunted by our exponential growth, support, and solidarity among the poor masses of this country.

Mr Hichilema is unsettled by the fact that more and more of our people, including his own supporters, agree with our message and vision for a more equal, fair, just and united Zambia.

Our people have read through this one-term puppet regime’s corrupt and divisive rhetoric and have resolved to correct the mistake they made in the last general election.

Even Mr Hichilema and the masters who control him know that we not only support our people, but that more and more of our people, especially the poor masses, heavily support us too.

This is why Mr Hichilema and his league are desperate and willing to practise autocracy while preaching democracy. But we fully understand what is happening to them and how this unstoppable mass movement of the people affects them.

We know this, and global history has shown that the more corrupt a regime becomes, the more intolerant and repressive it is towards opposition political parties and critical voices. And what we are facing today is the standard outcome that unfolds whenever a regime’s corrupt, incompetent, and authoritarian path is unmasked.

But we have a message for Mr Hichilema and his league, and that is: “The struggle to liberate our people from poverty and squalor will never die. This is one struggle we are willing to sacrifice and pay a heavy price for”.

So, let them know they’re in for a tough fight with us as we pursue justice, equity, and peace.

We will not be deterred by scared, evil puppets and their equally evil masters, who are willing to strangle our people with poverty while they greedily share our minerals and natural resources.

Time is ticking and time will tell. The damage being done to our country will be accounted for someday soon by those inflicting severe losses, suffering, and destruction on innocent people.

Our people have suffered indignity and injustice from imperialists and their puppet regimes, such as the one governing our country today, for far too long.

One bad term doesn’t deserve another, aleya!

Fred M’membe
President of the Socialist Party

Hichilema and his evil advisors at state house

Hichilema and his evil advisors at state house Featured

The evil, disgraceful and morally objectionable activities being peddled by certain identifiable individuals within the presidential advisory team at State House confirms Mr Hakainde Hichilema’s heartless and spiteful personality, which is regrettable.

Evidently, Mr Hichilema has given consent to and has embraced this evil, conspiring, and morally bankrupt behaviour to manage his presidency, which he obviously thinks can function better when anchored on persecution, vindictiveness, pettiness and malicious attacks on the dignity of political opponents and their families.

But this will not work, and has never worked anywhere, as it only succeeds in blinding the leadership to the real and honest picture obtaining on the ground. In fact, the worst thing that can happen to any political cause is when the propagandists start believing their own propaganda and hate speech.

This is the situation Mr Hichilema and his evil counsellors at State House find themselves in today. Mr Hichilema and his evil conspirators have started believing their own lies and hate speech, and are hooked on the swirl of cruelty, corruption, and indecent behaviour around the presidency.

Clearly, these are petty individuals who are in disarray about leadership, governance, success, and victories. They have over inflated their intellects and influence to the extent that they feel untouchable and invincible. But they will live to regret this some day soon. Most Zambians have lived long enough and been through several governments since independence and they cannot fail to predict the ending of such overzealous and evil individuals.

As a matter of fact, through our highly placed and impeccable contacts within Mr Hichilema’s regime, we have become acutely aware of the identities and actions of some of Mr Hichilema’s advisors in State House. We fear for this country and its citizens when we look at the evil plotting – politically, business wise, financially and socially – against citizens, and the disgraceful and morally objectionable activities currently taking place within State House.

Certainly, the undue influence and behind- the-scenes wicked counselling and scheming currently taking place in Mr Hichilema’s presidential advisory team is a catalyst for a barbaric failed state with no traces of decency, integrity, love or compassion in it.

We know all the little evil advisors whispering wicked counsel straight into Mr Hichilema’s ear and how, in extreme instances, these same individuals have abused law enforcement and deliberately caused pain and anguish for the families of innocent citizens they have locked up in police cells, prisons; the many civil servants and parastatal employees they have denied a living through unfair job dismissals; the corrupt fertiliser tenders and other deals they are cutting; as well as how they are instigating law enforcement agencies against selected citizens in order to cripple them emotionally and financially thereby shutting the critical voice and silencing the truth-tellers.

The continued detention of former State House Special Assistant for Politics, Dr Chris Zumani Zimba and his co-accused, and the arrest and torture of PF presidential hopeful Mr Emmanuel Mwamba, and PF member and blogger Mr Rizwani Patel are among the many instances with visible footprints leading to the evil plotting happening in State House.

Arising from the above, it is vividly clear that the malfunctioning and subsequent downfall of Mr Hichilema and his corrupt, far-right UPND puppet regime is being accelerated by the crimes of a few evil advisors in his presidential advisory team at State House.

We know and understand that Mr Hichilema can only work with those he is comfortable and shares the past with, those he has done both good and bad with, those with traits similar to his. And so, we can only advise since our role as an opposition political party is to scrutinise his rule and offer solutions.

For that reason, we urge Mr Hichilema to think through the wicked and low-priced behaviour he is allowing, and pay a closer look into these dishonourable and unjustifiable notorious flaws, and evil plotting currently obtaining in the presidential advisory team at State House.

Let him take a keen interest in the happenings of literally every department at State House; legal, national security advisory, media, political, and so on. This must be done as a matter of urgency to escape the looming shame on himself and the presidency. There is just way too much scum or filth in this particular presidential advisory team at State House!

Proverbs 25:5 guides: “Remove wicked officials from the King’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness.”

As for the evil advisors at State House, we advise you to introspect and constantly remember that presidential immunity is not transferrable; it is Mr Hichilema with the immunity and not you, but even for Mr Hichilema, the immunity is not permanent. It can be removed when need arises. So, tame your zeal and evil plotting because power is brief, transitory and never permanent.

The country is watching! Zambians are alert!

Fred M’membe

Hichilema had no plan to fix Zambia, it was all rhetoric

Hichilema had no plan to fix Zambia, it was all rhetoric Featured

What’s the problem with KCM and Mopani? What’s troubling Mr Hichilema’s government?

We would like to remind them that the delayed capitalisation of the two mining operations has been and is too painful for Zambia, especially for the residents of the Copperbelt Province. Statements to the effect that the delay is “because the government wants to safeguard the interests of Zambians” are hollow and deceitful because it is clear that Mr Hichilema and the UPND had no plan to “fix” any challenges Zambia was facing before they were elected, and now the problems have grown bigger.

On KCM, the trouble is that Vedanta has spent money and promised to be given back the mine based on agreed terms, including some Key Performance Indicators that Mr Hichilema’s government has included in the draft agreement.

The Key Performance Indicators include the following:

  1. An investment of more than $1 billion to develop KDMP;
  2. Salary and wage increments for KCM staff;
  3. Assume and pay-off debts owing to suppliers and contractors to KCM. These will be mainly debts incurred by the Provisional Liquidator and may be upwards of $300 million, excluding the electricity bill.

Should the Key Performance Indicators not be met, Vedanta will be compelled to offer its shares in KCM to ZCCM IH at a price. It would appear it is the asking price from Vedanta that might now be delaying the conclusion of the deal.

Vedanta is asking for upwards of $2.75 billion should the government invoke the Article to takeover the mines if Vedanta fails to attain certain Key Performance Indicators. It is incomprehensible that such an Article would even be considered because one wonders what safeguard measures have been put in place to safeguard GRZ/ZCCM IH/ and the people of Zambia, who are the ultimate beneficial shareholders in ZCCM IH, from Vedanta should Vedanta deliberately underperform so that ZCCM IH triggers the Articles for the Vedanta shares to be sold to ZCCM IH in the name of not meeting KPIs for Vedanta to automatically be owed $2.75 billion by ZCCM IH.

Should this information we have be true, then this imminent deal between Mr Hichilema’s government will surpass the Lungu government’s $1.5 billion deal with Glencore over Mopani.

Noticeably, there is something fishy about this deal and it can only be because Vedanta may have parted with some money to allow for such a bad deal against Zambians to be tabled for finalisation.

It cannot be wrong to assume that this deal might have an upside for some government officials pulling strings to make it happen. Your guess is as good as mine as to what level such deals are given the go-ahead.

As for Mopany Copper Mine, it appears that after almost concluding with a Chinese group, the government has reopened the bid process by allowing a possible last-minute entry to be considered for its acquisition.

Whatever the reasons, it is now two years since Mr Hichilema was elected into office to manage Zambia with the promise that “Bally will fix it”.

It appears Mr Hichilema either underestimated the challenges Zambia is and has been facing, or that may be “Bally” had no plan even after being given 16 years to prepare for the job.

Fred M’membe
President of Socialist Party