State warns ZNS officers helping smugglers

GOVERNMENT has warned Zambia National Service (ZNS) personnel abetting smuggling of maize into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that they will be severely punished.
Minister of Defence Davies Chama said in an interview yesterday any ZNS officer found smuggling the commodity or assisting in the vice would be severely punished.
Government has deployed the ZNS to control the rampant smuggling of Zambia’s staple food into the neighbouring DRC and Malawi.
“The problem is that the criminal-minded people want to smuggle maize to neighbouring countries. We are aware that most Southern African countries have insufficient maize hence making the country [Zambia] a target for smuggling and illegal exports,” Mr Chama said.
He said the ZNS officer who was apprehended by police for allegedly smuggling mealie-meal at a checkpoint would be prosecuted.
Mr Chama said even with the existence of the ban on maize exports, some people have continued to smuggle the commodity.
Police apprehended a ZNS officer for allegedly smuggling 16 bags of mealie-meal from Chililabombwe’s central business district to Kasumbalesa border post.
“ZNS officers and Zambia Police have been deployed in the area to ensure that the country does not run out of food. They are working hand in hand to address the problem,” Mr Chama said.
Meanwhile, Mr Chama has refuted allegations that ZNS officers stationed in Chililabombwe are harassing individuals found with bags of mealie-meal.
He said the officers are authorised to apprehend suspected smugglers and hand them over to the Zambia Police but that this action is being twisted as harassment.
Meanwhile, Chililabombwe member of Parliament (MP) Richard Musukwa is concerned by reports that ZNS staff are involved in smuggling of mealie-meal at Kasumbalesa border post.
Mr Musukwa said the defence and security personnel should not be involved in any illegal activity.
“There is no sacred cow when dealing with offenders. Government has put a red tape to smuggling of mealie-meal to ensure food security in the country,” he said.
Mr Musukwa also said that there are complaints from women who say they are being stripped of their clothes and beaten.
He said the rise in mealie-meal smuggling in Chililabombwe is not by residents but by outsiders who have migrated to the border town.

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