by Elias Munshya
When I say that His Excellency, the President of our Republic, is spreading the COVID-19 virus, I do not mean that he has the virus. What I mean is that his current travel schedules expose the people of Zambia in remote areas to COVID-19. The President does not travel alone. Even if the President himself has done everything in his power to ensure that he does not contract the virus – he travels with a lot of people from Lusaka who may have been exposed to the virus in Lusaka. Lusaka is the epicentre of the virus. Some COVID-19 deaths in Lusaka are coming in as Brought-In-Dead (BIDs). Never in the history of our republic has so many sudden deaths been reported in Lusaka. Just in the past month or so, we have heard of sudden deaths of mothers, fathers, and friends. This is very serious, and a serious president must pay attention to the way he is conducting himself if his actions will lead to the spread of a virus.
The President travels with his presidential guard, much of which comprises Lusaka based paramilitary officers. They are part of the advance party, mostly travelling by road to go and protect our country’s chief executive. From Lusaka to Luampa or Monze, there, they travel by road. And no matter how much care members of our police forces take, they can become potential spreaders of COVID-19. As faithful servants of our constitution, these paramilitary officers must obey the command and go. I commend their courage and the risks they take every day to serve their commander-in-chief. However, their commander-in-chief must think about these officers; and also think about the innocent souls in Luampa, Sioma, Shangombo, and the famous Monze. Monze. If you know what I mean! The President of our republic must not be found to be behaving in ways that endanger the innocent lives of poor villagers. So far, Lusaka is not handling the COVID-19 very well as evidenced by the rising numbers of our dead; how will our country handle the pandemic once it reaches these far-flung areas?
It is up to the President to exercise restraint and stay at State House to solve more significant problems. Some issues deserve his attention at State House instead of ukuseya. Opposition Leader Michael Sata at one time, used to say that President Rupiah Banda was a kakwendo munjila. This would appropriately describe President Lungu. He is Lungu kakwendo munjila. Maybe Rupiah Banda’s can be excused, but in this day and age of COVID-19; there is no justifiable reason why President Lungu should be taking Lusaka COVID-19 to the poor villagers. Saying that this is the new normal is not comforting either. It is not healthy for the presidential entourage to travel from COVID-19 hit Lusaka to spread the seeds of a virus to the corners of the world. It is not healthy for the President to be wearing a Chinese made mask in Monze and Shangombo when the people of Sioma and Luampa have no access to the masks. The President must completely restrain himself and stop this ukuseya. But it appears like State House ila bababa (it itches and irritates him) so that he wants to get out at the earliest opportunity. To where with that speed?
The President should begin dealing with problems in Lusaka. As the famous Franco once sang: Makambo ezali minene (there are significant problems in Lusaka). Lungu’s minister of health has been charged with theft of government money and being found with property reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime, including, I do understand, COVID-19 donations. The President should seriously apply his mind to this issue instead of flying around the country, potentially spreading amalwele. The President should also be in Lusaka to deal with Bill 10. We know the President considers Bill 10 to be his surviving panacea. But he must stay home to know that Zambians are not in favour of this bill. Suddenly, billboards have been erected all around the country by a treacherous organisation known as YALI, adverting Bill 10 as if it were soap or groundnuts. The President must stay at State House to listen to the people of Zambia about this undemocratic bill. The President must also address himself to the violence that his party is perpetrating on the Zambian people. Several thugs are in the President’s name mobilizing to cause mayhem. These thugs are beating up police officers and destroying property. As these thugs continue to terrorize the people, the President is busy doing actions that have the potential to take the COVID-19 virus to the poor of Luampa. I am confident that once the President restrains his penchant for bukaseya, he may just turn his mind to resolving the PF party’s thirst for blood and violence.
But of course, Edgar Chagwa Lungu is a blame deflector. The buck does not stop at him. It goes beyond to Bweengwa or to HH, whichever comes first. He does not accept the blame. Everything that happens in Zambia is caused by HH, according to Lungu. Even this violence we are seeing from the PF cadres is being blamed on HH. Well, the Bembas say – ukuteke mbwa mano. The President cannot be blaming someone else for the failings of his own leadership. Zambians are not looking for a president who blames others. They are looking for a president who will stand firm – fight corruption, fire the thief, control his thugs, and, most importantly, stay home to control the spread of COVID-19 to the innocent villagers.
Advice ni mahala, as Mwana Maria, the new Facebook comedian from John Laing, likes saying. But I only wish that the President will listen for once and provide hope and vision. Not ukuseya fye, noku tanda amalwele ku bena mushi.
The author, Elias Munshya, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org