Minister of Information Gospel Kazako has warned unscrupulous traders against frustrating the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP), saying they will face the law.
The minister issued the warning on Saturday when he conducted spot-checks in several AIP suppliers during his tour of community radio stations in the Shire Valley.
He said he received reports that some traders were selling under-packed bags of fertilisers, and that many beneficiaries were failing to access the products because of network glitches, with some traders demanding a special payment from the beneficiaries before assisting them.
Kazako, who described the act as theft, took time to have some of the fertiliser bags reweighed.
He said: “The shops we visited passed the test, but we will continue with the spot-checks. Ministers and senior government officials are working across the country to ensure beneficiaries access the inputs. Any suspicious conduct will be investigated and culprits will be arrested on the spot.”
The minister also advised communities to report any suspicious conduct through the toll-free line 3013.
On his part, Bangula Agora Depot assistant manager Helson Bazwell said the low supply of inputs and network glitches created misunderstandings between beneficiaries and the suppliers.
He said: “Some are waiting up to three days to buy their inputs. Due to high demand, oftentimes we are running out of fertiliser stock.
“On the network, when we scan identity cards, some beneficiaries appear as if they already redeemed the products when they did not.”
Bazwell asked government to rectify the challenges.
Kazako, who visited Nyanthepa and Gaka community radio stations, underscored the importance of community radio stations in sensitising communities
“We have challenges in AIP, there is an evil spirit of rape and defilement roaming around in this country, our women and girl children are not at peace.
“We need to report more on those issues to raise awareness, expose and bring to book the perpetrators,” he said.
The minister’s tour started with the launch of a sweeping exercise at Nsanje Boma on Friday which was led by the district council. Both district commissioner Medson Matchaya and Senior Chief Malemia commended government for the initiative, saying it will help prevent the spread of infectious diseases among communities.