By Charity Moonga
Parliament yesterday threw out a private members motion which, if passed, would have increased the jail sentence for cattle rustlers from the current 15 to a minimum of 20 years imprisonment.
This was after a long debate which culminated into a vote on the motion.
Moving the motion, Kalabo central UPND MP Chinga Miyutu said cattle rustling was contributing to increasing poverty in Zambia.
He said cattle rustling had become a highly organised crime which had brought about suffering among people in rural areas.
He said cattle rustling had the capacity to disturb food security in Zambia.
The vice was a serious national emergency and the current law was inadequate hence the need to increase the jail sentence to ensure people and animals were protected.
Conditions for people accused of cattle rustling should also be increased to include K10,000 cash bail with five working sureties to discourage people from engaging in the vice.
He called for increased community policing and bilateral engagements with neighbouring countries.
Mkaika MMD MP David Phiri seconded the motion and said the problem needed to be addressed to improve agriculture.
Katuba UPND MP Jonas Shakafuswa and Liuwa MMD MP Situmbeko Musokotwane said animals were being poisoned and killed for sale in urban areas.
Mbabala UPND MP Ephraim Belemu said a lot of people were being killed by cattle rustlers.
Police, butcheries and abattoirs were said to be clearing and killing stolen animals respectively.
Justice Deputy Minister Keith Mukata and his Home Affairs counterpart Steven Kampyongo argued that laws on cattle rustling were adequate.
Earlier, Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda warned that it was a criminal offence to use counterfeit banknotes and those found with them would be liable to imprisonment.
He was responding to a question by Kaputa PF MP Maxus Ngonga who wanted to know what measures Government had taken to curb counterfeit Kwacha notes.
He also wanted to find out what measures Government had put in place to sensitise rural communities on counterfeit notes to protect them from being swindled.
Sensitisation campaigns had continued and the Bank of Zambia was providing literature to assist the public. Members of the public should also remain alert.
Large cash handlers were also encouraged to use currency counting machines fitted with detection technology.