WYNTER Kabimba has challenged President Edgar Lungu and his ministers to be the first ones to take mandatory HIV tests and disclose the results to all Zambians.
And Kabimba says President Lungu hasn’t seen it necessary to advocate for a profitable maize price this marketing season because he doesn’t need a vote from anybody now.
Kabimba, the Rainbow Party general secretary, said the President and his ministers ought to set the example on the HIV mandatory testing.
During the inaugural HIV Testing, Counselling and Treatment day in Lusaka recently, President Lungu announced that his Cabinet had agreed on a policy that would make HIV testing, counselling and treatment mandatory and that the new measure was not debatable.
The Head of State claimed that the decision was aimed at protecting the lives of those infected and affected by the HIV epidemic.
“I wish the President and his Cabinet would have lined themselves up for [HIV] testing at that function that day and told us their results. It would have been fair that way! But what they did is that they just declared it and walked away. We want to know the status of the President and every Cabinet minister; they must set the example over this HIV testing. But the Human Rights Commission said this [mandatory HIV testing] is against the World Health Organisation’s legal instruments on HIV and I think they have got a point. Let me tell you what is going to happen; because of the stigma attached to HIV in communities, people will shun going to government medical facilities,” Kabimba said when he featured on Hot FM radio’s Hot Seat today.
“HIV is an ailment [that is] different from malaria and I laughed when I heard someone trying to correlate it to malaria. If you come to work and say I had a bout of malaria for the past three days, everybody will sympathise with you. [But] if you come to work and say I went for an HIV test and they said I’m positive, everybody would want to know how many women you have slept with, even if you just contracted it from one woman, a razor blade or from a contaminated needle at the clinic. So, what will happen is that it (mandatory testing) will increase the deaths in our communities because people will be afraid of going to clinics and those deaths will be as a result of this policy which has not been properly laid out for people to understand.”
And on the topical political parties’ bill, the former justice minister said he was yet to meticulously read the document in order to come up with the Rainbow Party’s position on the matter.
On the impending dialogue between UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema and President Lungu, Kabimba noted that he was unaware of what the duo would be discussing.
“I don’t know what the dialogue is all about, to be honest with you. I don’t know what the two gentlemen are going to discuss. All that we saw is president HH being released from Mukobeko and there is still some controversy on whether he was released under a nolle or under Article 180, I think, of the Constitution. So, since we are not parties to the dialogue, we are waiting for the details of this dialogue. But I hope the dialogue will be for moving forward in the areas that opposition political parties, including the UPND, have been trying to talk about,” he said.
“Since the government has now shown us that they would rather listen to outsiders, it is good that an envoy has been appointed by the Commonwealth secretary general who is going to be respected by President Lungu because he (President Lungu) doesn’t respect his own bishops, he doesn’t respect his fellow Zambians in terms of resolving matters. I’m sure that if Patricia Scotland had not come, HH would still be behind bars; that’s a colonial hangover that is with African leaders. You would rather hear it from somebody white or half white in order for you to respect the decision.”
On the recent standoff at the University of Zambia regarding students who were defaulting and the institution’s earlier decision to bar them from writing exams, Kabimba stressed that: “It is not that they don’t want to pay; they can’t just afford. But then you (UNZA vice-chancellor Professor Luke Evuta Mumba) are appearing on a TV screen saying ‘exams are printed on paper.’ Yes, we know; you are not telling us anything new. Just like his exams, as Vice-Chancellor, were printed on paper but [on] paper that was bought by government at the time. So, why can’t we do to others as we would want others to do to us?”
He further argued that dismantling UNZA into five schools would not augment the University’s viability.
On August 14, Cabinet approved the re-structuring of UNZA into separate, specialised colleges.
According to Cabinet, the university colleges would be in the following faculties: humanities and arts, mines and minerals, engineering, agriculture and veterinary and education.
“The so-called colleges will still be financed by government [and] UNZA as a composite entity is still supposed to be financed by government. Does it matter whether you take the school of environmental studies away or the school of engineering away? Will that make any difference? What is at the core of this is fundamentally financing. I’m not even insinuating (that this government doesn’t know what it is doing), you are being polite to them; that’s what I’m saying. I’m not insinuating [because] insinuating is like you are giving them the benefit of the doubt. That’s what I’m saying; they don’t know what they are doing. And the Minister of Higher Education is supposed to be a professor…So, the point is that dismantling of the University of Zambia is not the solution [but] financing the University of Zambia is the solution,” Kabimba explained.
And Kabimba said last year’s higher maize price of K85 per 50 kg was for political advantage for the ruling PF.
“Last year, the floor price of maize that was originally announced by government was K75. [But] because it was an election year, the President intervened personally and increased that to K85. It was, obviously, a political floor price of maize. This year, we are told by the same President that this should be a buyer and seller’s market; let the buyer and seller negotiate. This year, he (President Lungu) hasn’t seen it necessary because he doesn’t need a vote from anybody and he thinks by 2021, people would have forgotten about what happened. Just watch what will happen in 2021 when he runs for elections, if he is eligible constitutionally,” said Kabimba.
“The benchmark for maize price has always been the FRA floor price. So, this year it is K60 and there is nobody; no small-scale business person and no private buyer would want to buy the maize at more than K60. So, what the government has done this year is to kill the peasant farmer. [But] the problem that the peasant farmer has is that he or she has no storage facilities and we are just two months away from the next rainy season. So, they have to get rid of their maize, soya beans for cash. So, the lack of storage facilities is compounding the problem on the part of the peasant farmer.”