A serious shortage of mealie-meal has hit Chipata district with most wholesale traders completely running out of the commodity.
A check by Breeze News in some super markets found that the commodity ran out on Wednesday including the locally produced mealie-meal.
And some retail shops at Kapata market have few stocks of mealie-meal being sold at 115 Kwacha per 25 kilogram bag of breakfast and 42 kwacha for a ten kilogram bag of breakfast.
Some shop owners who did not want to be mentioned say that most people buying mealie-meal are from Malawi.
They explained that they had put in place a condition that a person should only buy one bag of mealie-meal but this failed as foreigners were giving money to Zambians to buy for them.
And some shop owners at Down Shops have explained that they are now requesting for a National Registration Card from customers to qualify to buy mealie- meal so that it is not sold to foreigners.
They said that the condition has resulted in Zambians being bribed by foreigners to allow them use their NRCs to purchase the product.
And the traders expressed worry that supply of mealie meal has started delaying from suppliers.
The traders have called on government to seriously address the issue of illegal cross border trade especially on products like mealie-meal before the country completely runs out of the commodity.
Meanwhile a local businessman, Andrew Lubusha has been accused of illegally ferrying mealie meal to Malawi.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, some residents stated that Mr Lubusha’s trucks have been spotted in the night loading mealie meal at his home and taking it to Malawi.
But when contacted, Mr. Lubusha denied any wrong doing stating that he cannot involve himself in smuggling Zambia’s staple food especially that government is making all efforts to ensure that the country does not run out of mealie meal and maize stocks.
The Bursaries Committee has been reported to the Anti-Corruption Commission ACC by CSPR, the Civil Society for Poverty Reduction.
This follows revelations from the 2014 Auditor General’s report that huge sums of money meant for the payment of students, who are on government bursary has been misappropriated.
CSPR Advocacy and Communications Progromme Officer, Maxson Nkhoma, says that upon studying the report, his organization is of the view that the Law enforcement agencies move in and probe the committee.
He says this will help ascertain if there was any wrong doing by the committee or any of its members in relation to the issues raised in the auditor general’s report.
Mr. Nkhoma says that it is saddening that the bursaries committee has been failing to account for huge sums of money meant for students Bursaries at a time when the country has been faced with challenges of increasing access to higher education for most vulnerable citizens due to lack of financial support.
He says CSPR is confident that ACC will investigate the allegations within the shortest possible period of time and inform members of the general public on the outcomes of the investigations.
In the letter to ACC by CSPR executive director Patrick Nshindano, which has also been available to Breeze FM, the bursaries committee is said to have failed to avail to auditors details of students purported to have received the funds amounting to over 94 million Kwacha.
The Taskforce on Rabies in Chadiza has failed to kill stray dogs in the district despite sensitising the community.
A check by Breeze News found a number of dogs moving around the district unchained.
District Administration Officer Imolela Maswabi says the program has failed because the District Veterinary Office is keeping bullets, which police officers are supposed to use in eliminating the stray dogs.
He indicated that the Veterinary Office did not give the police officers the bullets.
Mr Maswabi says the taskforce committee will set another date for the destruction of the stray dogs in the district.
Chadiza has a population of more than 500 dogs and the Taskforce Committee had set February 4th as date for carrying out the exercise.
Government in Eastern Province has set up a committee to deal with the smuggling of mealie-meal into Malawi and Mozambique.
Permanent Secretary, Chanda Kasolo, says that the committee which was set up in consultation with provincial minister, Malozo Sichone, is monitoring super markets and other mealie-meal retail shops.
He says that government is fully aware of the trend where mealie-meal is being exported to neighbouring countries in the region illegally.
Mr. Kasolo observed that exporting mealie-meal, is a new way smugglers are using to take Zambian maize out of the country.
He explained that following government’s embargo on maize exportation, people have now turned to mealie meal.
Mr. Kasolo has warned that anyone who will be found smuggling mealie-meal outside the country will be arrested.
Recently, people have been calling on government to put in place measures that will end smuggling of mealie-meal.
Government is worried about the number of children not attending school in Zambia, which currently stands at 500,000.
Chipata District Administrative Officer Kapembwa Sikazwe said this during the launch of Chipata District Advocacy Committee yesterday.
Mr Sikazwe says community schools countrywide are catering for about 600,000 children, making a huge contribution towards reducing the out of school children.
He says the launch is a milestone to achieving improved service delivery in community schools by the government adding that challenges being faced by community schools will be solved.
Mr Sikazwe says the project which is being supported by Zambia Open Community Schools ZOCS and funded by Counterpart International through USAID Assistance will foster accountability and transparency in community schools.
He says government attaches great importance and value to the support rendered by private organisations such as ZOCS.
Mr Sikazwe says government is hopeful that Chipata District Advocacy Committee will be key in ensuring that there is a link between the implementers and consumers of government services.
Government has awarded an extension to the contract period of the 168.7 million Euros reconstruction works of the Great East road.
Eastern Province Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo says the works on the 375 kilometre stretch from Luangwa Bridge to Mwami border which were scheduled for completion in December last year will be completed in July this year.
Mr Kasolo says the reconstruction works by Condril and Mota Engil construction companies were delayed at an initial stage due to problems in sourcing materials such as crushed stones, labour and the rains.
He says that the extension of the project will not attract any extra costs because the extension has not been caused by RDA, the Road Development Agency or government.
Mr. Kasolo however, noted that it is important for people not to disturb the two contractors from carrying out their works because it may attract extra costs.
He has pointed out that Chipata Municipal Council should not be forced to use the police to remove Illegal Street vendors trading along Umodzi Highway as any extra money that government will pay the contractor is a loss to Zambians.
The road project is co-financed by the European Union EU through the European Development Fund EDF and the European Investment Bank EIB, the French Agency for Development AFD and the African Development Bank.
Mobile markets commonly known as Bwandila have been suspended with immediate effect in Lundazi district.
This follows the confirmed outbreak of cholera in neighbouring Malawi.
The resolution to suspend mobile markets was arrived at following an emergency stakeholders meeting called by Epidemic, Preparedness, Prevention and Control Committee yesterday.
According to a report presented by Acting Public Health Officer, Luwiza Banda, Kasungu district in Malawi that borders with Lundazi district has recorded confirmed cholera cases since last month and over 20 cases have been reported with four people having died from the disease.
Mrs Banda disclosed that catchment areas for 8 health facilities in Lundazi are at high risk of contamination.
These are Umi, Mankhaka, Mwimba, Nkhanyu, Mwase Lundazi, Mwasemphangwe, Lumezi and Ndaiwala.
She further indicated that catchment areas for 5 health facilities, Nyangwe, Lusuntha, Kamilenje, ZASP and Mthwalo are at moderate risk despite being situated along Zambia – Malawi border, which is porous.
Mrs. Banda indicated that the committee in the district is faced with a lot of challenges like lack of funding, problem with street vendors and operations of mobile markets under unsanitary conditions.
And the committee has resolved to inform all traditional leaders especially those situated in borders where mobile markets operate from to suspend the cross border trade until cholera is controlled in Malawi.
The Ministry of Education has dispelled rumours that Chizongwe Technical School will be closed following the gutting of the kitchen at the institution.
Provincial Education Officer, Allan Lingambe, says that he is aware that the fire accident will affect a few programs at the school, but will not send pupils back.
He explained that the institution will now be using the outside kitchen which requires firewood although the pots are smaller.
Mr. Lingambe explained that the number of cooks will be increased to help quicken the preparation of meals.
And Mr. Lingambe has attributed the improvement in performance of pupils at Grade Twelve level to strategies that the province put in place to improve learner performance.
He explained that the teaching staff in the province has remained focused on the strategies and worked hard.
Eastern Province has come out number one in the Grade Twelve results that have just been announced with a 71 per cent pass rate.
Mr. Lingambe says that this is a great improvement compared to the 67.4 per cent pass rate for 2014 result.
The Drug Enforcement Commission DEC has arrested a peasant farmer of Lundazi District for being in possession of counterfeit notes.
Chosani Banda, 25, a peasant farmer of Kayembe village in Lundazi District has been arrested for being in possession of 300 Kwacha counterfeit notes in 100 Kwacha bills.
DEC Public Relations Officer, Theresa Katonga has confirmed in a statement availed to Breeze News this morning.
Mr. Katongo also says that the DEC through its Anti-Money Laundering Investigations Unit has arrested a Lusaka businessman for money laundering involving 87, 600 Kwacha.
Mulenga Chibulu, 49, a businessman of Lusaka’s Kabanana Site and Service has been arrested for theft, making of false documents, uttering of false documents and money laundering contrary to the Laws of Zambia.
It is alleged that Chibulu on dates unknown but between 1st January, 2014 and 19th January, 2016 jointly and whilst acting together with other persons unknown stole a cheque for 87,600 Kwacha meant to pay the ZRA, Zambia Revenue Authority.
Chibulu has been released on Police Bond and is expected to appear in court soon.
Meanwhile, the Commission has also arrested 45 people countrywide for unlawful cultivation and trafficking in cannabis.
People in Chief Chanje’s area of Chipata district have been cautioned against harbouring thieves.
Chief Chanje of the Chewa people says that theft is on the increase in his area because some people, especially the youths, are working with thieves, who come from town.
He explained that thieves thought to be coming from town are terrorizing villagers and institutions such as schools and clinics.
The traditional leader says that thieves are stealing items especially livestock such as cattle, goats and pigs from the villagers, while in institutions, they are stealing laptops, television sets and other valuables belonging to workers.
He says that Vikwelukwelu and Vizenge schools have already been affected, while Khoswe and other surrounding villages have also suffered similar attacks.
Chief Chanje says that he held a meeting with headmen to find ways of ending the growing criminal activities and says anyone, who will be found to be working with the thieves will be punished.