REVELATIONS that that some miscreant Zambians in collaboration with foreign nationals are indulged in smuggling of Government’s subsidized grain into neighboring countries call for urgent action and solutions to stop the scourge.
Smuggling of maize and other natural resources is a problem, and has been a problem which leads to not only loss of customs duty revenue but also food security.
Government is not allowing maize and mealie meal to be exported because it is being subsidized to feed Zambian’s daily consumption.
But we are perplexed by the revelation that some Zambian farmers under the Farming Input Support Programme (FISP) in Northern Province are collaborating with foreign nationals in smuggling subsidized maize into neighbouring countries.
This came to light last weekend during his tour of duty of Northern Province when Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo made an abrupt stop over at Senga Hill enroute to Kasama from Mpulungu district.
In a shocking incident, it was revealed that some miscreants were in collaboration with foreign nationals indulged in smuggling of government’s subsidized grain into the Democratic of Congo and Tanzania.
A visibly unhappy minister said it was disheartening that some unscrupulous Zambians had opted to work with foreign nationals in an escapade to buy off maize grain from individual farmers and export it to neighboring countries.
Mr Kamyongo who warned those involved that they risked facing the wrath of the law if they continued with the scourge directed Northern Province Police Commissioner Richard Mweene to put his house in order and immediately halt the smuggling.
This is a sad development. Perhaps, these organized cartels of local farmers have been doing this for quite some time.
It is saddening to note that some indigenous Zambians who are supposed to guard their food jealously are involved in smuggling their own staple food for selfish personal gains at the expense of national food security.
We are also really concerned that maize and its products are being siphoned into DRC, Tanzania and indeed other neighbouring countries despite Government deploying security officers to curb the vice and ensure food security in the country.
Deliberate tax and duty evasion is a common practice across the world, but while the phenomenon is known and not peculiar practice to Zambia, efforts must be made to stop or reduce it because it has serious financial implications to national development and food security.
This smuggling should, therefore, be stopped forthwith because it overburdens law abiding good corporate citizens who continue to be saddled with the responsibility of contributing towards national development while others enjoy the facilities for free.
We call upon the Government to seal the loopholes by simply tightening border security issues, holes in the customs systems processes.
Given that issues of border surveillance involve a number of State agents, including the security forces, efforts must be made to ensure that all stakeholders work closely with the customs officials to plug leaks from smuggling, infective customs and porous national borders.
We also call on Government to give security officers the resources needed to deal with problem issues regarding administration of customs processes and border security deficiencies.
Importantly, Government needs to ensure that all State agents work hand-in-glove to address issues stifling efficient customs systems, effective border controls and giving way to unrestrained smuggling.