Siliya downplays problems in agriculture


By Malawo Malawo

AGRICULTURE minister Dora Siliya says the disorganised distribution of farming inputs for the 2016/2017 farming season across the country is a result of government’s divided attention between funding last year’s general elections and the agriculture sector.

And Siliya curtailed a journalist who sought to ask about her holiday in the United States while her ministry was embroiled in numerous challenges.

Addressing journalists at her office yesterday, Siliya, who just returned from the United States where she was on holiday with her alleged lover Mark Ode Mubalama, the husband to Namibia’s President Hage Geingob’s daughter Nagula, for over a week, said an election mood that was in Zambia last August contributed to poor funding to the Ministry of Agriculture.

“…the time when we prepare for FISP, usually June or July, was the time that this country was hype with elections and as a result, we seemed not to have been able to begin preparations [for FISP and e-voucher] quite early,” Siliya said.

She also assured that despite ravaging armyworms in selected provinces, Zambia’s food security would not be threatened.
And when a journalist tried to ask Siliya on her US outing and controversy it generated, the minister avoided the question, saying pertinent issues needed to be discussed.

“Not that question, do you have a question?” she asked the journalist, who continued to talk about the social media issues involving her.

“Let’s talk about things that are relevant to this topic (briefing on inputs and army-worms).”

And Siliya said the government belonged to the people of Zambia.

“If the PS is not here, there will be an acting PS. If the President is out of the country, there will be an acting President. If the minister is not available, government doesn’t stop, there will always be somebody to take charge,” said Siliya.