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CHILUFYA UNDERMINING PRESIDENCY – MINISTER

DR CHITALU Chilufya is undermining the President, a Cabinet minister has charged.

Meanwhile, Vice-President Inonge Wina has directed the Ministry of Health and the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) to publish all donations coming towards the COVID-19 fight to enhance accountability.

The minister, who is also member of the central committee together with other senior PF members, are now questioning the COVID-19 figures being announced by the Ministry of Health.

The Minister and a number of PF cadres, who asked for anonymity, said Dr Chilufya’s mission was to paint President Edgar Lungu black.

The minister wondered why Dr Chilufya announces alarming coronavirus cases each time the Head of State attempts to unlock sectors of the economy.

On Friday afternoon, President announced that Zambia had recorded 14 COVID-19 cases.

But in less than 24 hours, Dr Chilufya gave his usual COVID-19 daily update and announced 85 new cases in one day, the highest ever from the time the pandemic was confirmed in Zambia on March 18, 2020.

“We feel Dr Chilufya is trying undermine the President. Each time the President says one thing, he says the opposite. The figures go up each time there is an announcement of unlocking sectors of the economy – the numbers of COVID-19 cases escalate. The Minister needs be asked difficult questions about his figures,” they said.

The sources said the Shibuyunji death, involving an 82-year-old who suffered stroke, was on Tuesday contrary to Chilufya’s statement that it happened in the last 24 hours.

The PF members complained that while President Lungu was committed in striking a balance between keeping the economy afloat, it looked like Dr Chilufya had a different agenda.

They accused Dr Chilufya of conducting a smear campaign to make President Lungu look like he does not know what he’s doing.

“We seriously have a problem with Chilufya’s coronavirus figures, they keep increasing soon after the President announces measures to reopen some sectors of our economy,” the sources said.

And when she toured the DMMU Call Centre yesterday, Vice-President Wina said the public needs to follow the quantity of all the donations for them to develop confidence in the entrusted institutions.

She said the move would increase public confidence in government dealings.

“I would like to thank national coordinator here at DMMU [Chanda Kabwe] and your team and the Ministry of Health for ensuring that all donations received from the general public toward the fight against COVID-19 pandemic are well accounted for in terms of receipts and dissepiment. This include financial and material donations. Currently the Office of the Auditor General have stationed 16 auditor officers at DMMU and Ministry of Health to work with internal auditors in ensuring accountability of all donations, both material and financial,” Vice-President Wina said. “I further direct the DMMU national coordinator and the permanent secretaries at the Ministry of Health to publish all donations coming through in the fight against COVID-19 to enhance accountability.”

She also appealed to the Ministry of Health to ensure that all pupils in examination classes were given re-usable masks as schools re-open on June 1.

“In times of disasters, Zambians always get together and your government has done the same to respond to COVID-19 in the multisectoral manner…the call centre personnel have a lot of information and I wish to encourage the people to use the toll free number to get correct information from the officials,” said Vice-President Wina.

And Kabwe disclosed that Zambia had received support from the World Bank to the time of US $1.4 million for the construction of a world-class emergency centre.

He said the technology would link the Ministry of Transport and Communication’s meteorological department, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

President Lungu reopened some sectors of the economy, among them restaurants, gyms, cinemas, casinos and lodges.

He however said bars and taverns may be considered in the next seven to 14 days depending on the evolution of the pandemic and adherence to public health measures by those sectors that had been opened.

President Lungu also directed the opening of examination classes from primary and secondary schools on June 1.

And on Sunday, well-placed sources in the Ministry of Health said Dr Chilufya should either resign on moral and ethical grounds or be fired by President Edgar Lungu for misleading the government and the general public on the way the COVID-19 pandemic is evolving in Zambia.

The sources say President Edgar Lungu has created a big monster in Dr Chilufya which monster would soon devour him.

“The biggest challenge is Dr Chilufya has become untouchable and he gets his way to the President to the extent that he now has no respect even for the Vice-President,” sources say. “This is a well-known story within government circles and the VEEP is very unhappy…No wonder some people are now concluding that maybe President Lungu is positioning Dr Chilufya as his running mate in 2021. Dr Chilufya is now big-headed because President Lungu appears to be shielding or protecting him a lot.”

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