Tobacco Farmers have threatened to sue the government if it goes ahead to sign an illegal gentleman’s agreement through a Memorandum of Understanding with Tobacco Merchants.
This is to suspend the law which was enacted by parliament to regulate the Tobacco industry in the country and commence the procurement of the crop.
In a statement issued to the media by Chilufya Chishala one of the Tobacco farmers spoke on behalf of the farmers said some individuals at the Ministry of Agriculture have connived with the merchants to suspend the law, as the merchants want to continue ripping off the farmers.
Mr Chishala said signing an MoU would be breaking the law and that farmers will not allow selfish individuals to benefit off their sweat.
He accused the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture of aiding the merchants in their bid to disregard the law saying “what sort of people are these who are respecting foreigners instead of their own.”
Mr Chishala said the PS has been dinning with tobacco merchants who owe government millions of Kwacha which can be used to settle a lot of government bills such as salaries for ailing universities.
“This is an industry that has got the capacity to redeem this nation economically. This country is far from producing tobacco to its full potential because of greedy, we can produce up to 500 million Kilos of tobacco because we have the land and water to do so which can make us even forget about begging for credit from IMF but we lack the political will to do so. We are our own enemies. That is why we are urging the President himself to intervene in this issue because the people he has entrusted to protect the interest of Zambians are failing him,” he said.
He also accused the PS of contradicting the aspirations of his own government.
Trouble has recently arisen in the tobacco industry due to the new Statutory Instruments which Government has enacted to regulate the industry which the merchants are fighting because it is seen to be favoring Zambian farmers.
SI 84 of 2018 seeks to create an environment which is fair and transparent for merchants, farmers and government as well as end slavery conditions in the tobaccco value chain as supported by the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).