By CHUSA SICHONE
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has apologised to all the farmers under the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) who have been negatively affected by the ‘teething’ problems the Electronic voucher (E-voucher) system has been facing.
The Head of State has also urged Patriotic Front (PF) members not to be cheated by power-hungry ‘loudmouths’ who are claiming that the party has failed to perform according to expectations.
Addressing a crowd in Shiwang’andu District on Tuesday, President Lungu said teething problems were expected in every new system but assured that the Government would during the 2018-2019 farming season ensure that it addressed the challenges the E-voucher system faced.
“Let me apologise to those that have been adversely affected by the introduction of the E-voucher system but I assure you that we mean well, going forward to 2018-2019 agriculture season, the system will be improved and you will be appreciating why this system has come,” he said.
President Lungu said that the “thieves”, who were frustrating the E-voucher system so that the Government could revert to the old system which they used to steal farming inputs and money, would be weeded out to ensure that the initiative was perfected.
President Lungu, like Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary Julius Shawa said recently, a postmortem of the E-voucher system would be conducted during the course of this year in a bid to find solutions to the hitches encountered during the implementation of the system.
The Government last year embarked on a 100 percent implementation of the E-voucher system, but most farmers complained about the delay to activate their E-voucher cards thereby causing them to access farming inputs late.
Meanwhile, President Lungu challenged some PF members who were talking ill about the party to leave if they were not happy.
“For those colleagues who think PF is not good enough to be their political party, please, leave us alone before we force you out,” President Lungu said.
He said such people should come out in the open and state where their loyalty lies because they could not continue claiming that they were still PF members and yet they were alleging that it was a failed project.
President Lungu urged PF members to ignore such power-hungry individuals and loudmouths trying to fan confusion in the party and not believe them when they said that he was not a good leader because he was embracing newcomers to the party.
He said PF was the most attractive party in the country and so many people wanted to join it hence he urged the PF membership to embrace newcomers for the party to grow bigger and better as politics was about numbers and the newcomers would add more value to it.
Former Forum for Democracy and Development deputy national secretary and spokesperson Antonio Mwanza also castigated some PF officials who were discrediting the party and yet they still wanted to be members and likened them to a person claiming to belong to two churches.
Mr Mwanza said politics was about development and not insults and that was why he joined PF as it was delivering development across the country.
At the same public meeting, President Lungu donated three million books to schools in Shiwang’andu on behalf of the party, with PF national chairperson Samuel Mukupa warning that any teacher found selling the books to pupils would sternly be dealt with.
President Lungu and Mr Mukupa later addressed PF members and civil servants, who they urged to coexist and live in harmony as fighting each other would not be condoned.