Dear judge Mbadwa,
As the most experienced member of the bench, My Lord, I know you understand the true meaning of the adage that says a beggar is not a chooser.
Well, the Department of Disaster and Mismanagement Affairs in its spirit of caring for those affected with calamity decided to show some love to the people of Dowa to avert hunger.
My Lord, before I start thanking the department for speedily acting to avert catastrophe by distributing maize to residents of the district, I was appalled that the department decided to distribute something that resembled maize to the people who badly needed food.
The hungry people knew their worth and in their wisdom they decided that they could still maintain their dignity by refusing such gifts.
The rotten maize was not fit for human consumption and had to be thrown away anyway. The residents did well to return to the benefactors their gift, signifying that they could no longer be treated worse than animals.
My Lord, I would have forgiven the department had the relief maize not originated from them but from some overzealous charity groups that rush to give out things they fear would go bad or those they know they are already past shelf life. Oh a case of donating expired drugs to public hospitals comes to mind.
My Lord, the money used to buy relief items is usually taxpayers’ money; hence, we expected the department to have procured maize that is fit for consumption instead of just picking anything that looks like food.
We know that over K1.5 billion has been allocated to the department towards disaster response but no one in their rightful mind would intentionally buy rotten food to be distributed to people unless that is done with a purpose to defraud government.
Now if they tell us that the maize was also a donation, then the department has a responsibility of checking the condition of relief items before distributing them for fear of giving the people a virus.
My Lord, it was the insensitivity in which the whole exercise was conducted that has irked me.
As is the case with us Nyasas, this issue will pass without someone being taken to task for not doing their job and for treating the hungry people of Dowa like filth.
The department is distributing the maize on the behalf of all Nyasas and they are not doing a favour to anyone at all.
The people of Dowa, My Lord, do not only deserve an unconditional apology for being given food meant for the rubbish dump, but they also need to be compensated because their lives were put in danger when they were given the maize not fit for human consumption.
Those who think that the residents in their desperate situation cannot ask for better things are warped in their thinking because government has an obligation to take care of its citizens and accord them the best possible care in times of catastrophe or disaster.
Feeding them rotten maize or bran is the insult of the highest order can subject citizens to. Nobody should say beggars are not choosers because disaster victims are no beggars at all.
We demand that the controlling officers at the department be subpoenaed by your court so that they take responsibility for their mess.
By the way, isn’t this department overseen by the venerated Chimusekerenji?
I remain the most obedient,
With Emmanuel Luciano
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