SOCIALIST Party general secretary Cosmas Musumali says President Edgar Lungu has nothing much to offer to the masses other than corruption.
He says the President is destroying traditional leadership structures around the country.
“Over the past months, the President has been crisscrossing the country with suitcases of slush funds. This money is given primarily to PF structures as well as to traditional leaders,” Dr Musumali said.
He said in trying to buy himself the loyalty of traditional leaders in the country, President Lungu was systematically undermining and destroying their credibility.
Dr Musumali explained that, for example, in an impoverished district like Lukulu, selected village headmen were given K1,000 each, senior indunas K5,000 and the district chief K10,000, by President Lungu.
He added that PF ward structures were rewarded with K5,000 and that groups of preforming artists parted with K5,000.
“As this shameful act was going on, most clinics in Lukulu were without Panadol and Coartem. The poverty stricken patients in their thousands were being referred to the makeshift drug stores selling these drugs – not seldom initially delivered to the district through Medical Stores Limited,” Dr Musumali, a Lukulu product, said. “Essential drugs meant to save life through the taxpayers’ money are with impunity slipping out of the system into these private entities. Welcome to the country of ubomba mwibala alya mwibala (shadily deriving benefits from where you work)!”
He added that even without such parasitic slippage at the district level, the supply chain had broken down.
Dr Musumali indicated that there was rampant high-level corruption and that the pressure exerted by COVID-19 had exacerbated the situation.
He said traditional leaders in Lukulu district were very aware of the pathetic state of public health in the district.
“They experience the daily misery of their people seeking care that is not made available! In a decent society, they would have told the President to put the money where the most vulnerable would benefit, i.e. in providing anti-malarial and other drugs to patients,” Dr Musumali explained. “But this is maybe demanding too much! Our traditional leaders are a reflection of wider Zambian society – greedy, individualistic and corrupt. This is what capitalism does. It deforms even the pre-capitalist, pre-colonial institutions.”
He said days after President Lungu had left Lukulu district, and the hand-outs he had given had all been spent, the traditional leaders were not themselves.
“Their people were calling them all sorts of names. They had been reduced to leaders without authority!” said Dr Musumali.