Twelve farmers nabbed for cultivation of over two tonnes of cannabis.

The Drug Enforcement Commission, DEC has arrested twelve small scale farmers of Mambwe District for unlawful cultivation of fresh cannabis plants weighing over two tonnes.

In a press statement this morning, DEC says the farmers were arrested in separate incidences.

In Simukonda Village, Moses Phiri, 23, Mambwe Phiri, 42, and John Banda, 42, were arrested for unlawful cultivation of fresh cannabis plants weighing 1.07 tonnes.

Others arrested and jointly charged are Robson Banda, 42, and Falesi Mbewe, 35, for unlawful cultivation of fresh cannabis plants weighing 395 kilograms.

Lameck Banda, 42, and his wife Eletina Jere, 36, have been arrested for unlawful cultivation of fresh cannabis plants weighing 392 kilograms.

Kelvin Jere, 34, and Eliness Banda, 35, have also been arrested for unlawful cultivation of fresh cannabis plants weighing 375 kilograms.

Also arrested is Able Banda, 46 and Godwin Phiri, 65, for unlawful cultivation of fresh cannabis plants weighing 150 and 110 kilograms of cannabis respectively.

The commission has also arrested a number of people in Western and Lusaka Provinces. All suspects will appear in court soon.

Government clarifies that routine HIV testing is not mandatory.

The Ministry of Health has clarified that no health care giver has the right to initiate HIV testing without consent from patients.

Provincial, ART, Anti-Retroviral Therapy technical officer, Michael Muzombo, says that patients must give consent, even when the testing is done through health giver initiated testing.

Mr. Muzombo says that testing a patient without his or her knowledge is against health regulations and patients have the right to report to authorities.

This was during a live debate on Breeze FM.

And PACA, Provincial Aids Coordination Advisor Emmanuel Chama encouraged people to go for HIV testing.

He said this is the only way people will know their status and get information on how to live a healthy life, whether positive or negative.

And representing the Church, Pastor Chris Mulunda encouraged people not to view with negativity, the testing which is initiated by health care givers.

Pastor Chris said that it is important for patients to allow health care givers to do their work and carry out tests deemed necessary.

He said this is the only way health care givers will know exactly what is wrong with patients and administer the right drug.

During the debate, people also raised issues on the rise in the number of traditional healers that are busy telling people that they can cure many diseases including HIV/AIDS.

Others also said something needs to be done on churches and religious leaders that discourage people from taking drugs and seeking health care services.

Government challenged to address children’s needs.

A traditional leader in Chipata District has called on government to address challenges school going children face in their respective communities.

Speaking during the commemoration of the Day of the African Child yesterday, Chief Kapatamoyo of the Ngoni people, says children, especially those in rural areas, face a number of challenges, which should be addressed by government.

And the traditional leader says parents and guardians have a big role to play in transforming their children into responsible citizens.

He says the trend of marrying off girls at a tender age, should be condemned by well-meaning Zambians.

The traditional leader says marrying off children at a tender age, has greatly affected their wellbeing, a trend which should be stopped immediately.

And a grade seven pupil of Nyakutwa Primary School, Thandiwe Khosa, says the plight of children, especially a girl child can be safeguarded if they are educated.

Thandiwe says issues affecting children such as early marriages, will be reduced if many children are educated and empowered.

Construction works of 11 dip tanks have stalled.

Construction works of eleven dip tanks have stalled in Eastern Province due to government’s delay in paying money to the contractors.

Provincial Veterinary Officer, Author Mumbolomena, told Breeze News that the 11 dip tanks are out of the 66 whose construction works started in 2014.

He says the department has not yet paid the contractors for part of the works done on the dip tanks.

Dr. Mumbolomena says construction works for the 11 dip tanks will resume as soon as the department receives the remaining project funds from government.

He, however, did not disclose how much money government owes contractors for the construction of dip tanks.

Meanwhile, Dr. Mumbolomena says construction works on over 55 dip tanks, have been completed at a cost of about six million Kwacha.

He says all the completed dip tanks are operational across the region.

Dr. Mumbolomena says the construction of dip tanks across Eastern Province ,will assist curb East Coast fever and other tick borne diseases, which are common in cattle.