YOUTH Development Organisation executive director Partner Siabutuba has challenged political parties to tell the electorate on how they will handle COVID-19 amidst the economic hardships that has left Zambians dead without any solution.
In an interview, Siabutuba said COVID-19 was a crisis like any other hence it was important for political parties to state measures they would use to respond differently than was the case now under the PF regime.
“We are dead twice as Zambians because we are in an economic hardship amidst COVID-19 yet there’s no solution and whilst the pandemic is heightening it means that people’s economic activities are significantly slowing down,” he said.
And Siabutuba said the Electoral Commission of Zambia must lift the suspension on the conduct of political rallies for people to hear messages of hope from politicians.
“We are in a crisis and political leaders are supposed to raise the challenge openly and say if I were the president these are kind of solutions I would have been offering to deal with COVID-19 situation,” he said. “As it is now in the absence of political rallies we are wondering as to who is out there to try and alleviate the impact of economic challenges that people are suffering from.”
Siabutuba said COVID-19 should be a campaign message because the electorate wanted to hear how different political parties were going to respond to it.
“Amidst this COVID-19 people need messages of hope from presidential candidates because they are very desperate and don’t know where the solution lies. We need a lot of political leadership messages that should offer us hope,” he said. “We can’t justify postponing or suspending rallies because we don’t have a solution for this pandemic. Citizens must be sensitised on personal hygiene and safety against COVID-19. It is supposed to be a personal matter.”
Siabutuba suggested that what the country needed was to begin to invest in human attitude and behaviour instead of suspending important activities like political rallies.
“People must just be encouraged to mask up while attending rallies because suspending political rallies and road show campaigns is not in any way a solution. The truth of the matter is we are not still socially distancing as a people,” he said. “Let’s get to our markets, public transport, no one is socially distancing. So I think we cannot use political activities as a way to prevent COVID-19 when there are still a lot of other super spreaders of the pandemic which no one is talking about.”
Siabutuba observed that many a time the country had politicised very important processes which in the end affected the smooth running of business and development.
“It is important that institutions like the Ministry of Health which are responsible for lives of citizens are left to offer professional advice and those who go against professional advice should be penalised because lives can be lost,” he said.
Siabutuba urged both the government and politicians not to politicise COVID-19 because it had potential to make citizens fail to follow stipulated health guidelines.
“We don’t have the luxury of trying to speculate about the reality of COVID-19 and whether the vaccines are a way out or not. I think we just need to guide ourselves by science but at the centre stage put trust in those who are responsible for our health – believing that they will do the right thing,” said Siabutuba. “Of course we are aware that we have been in the past given expired drugs or not authenticated as it were but amidst all this we just need to put ourselves together that God has guided us to do the best thing for our nation.”