The perspective, by Edward Bwalya Phiri: a criminal regime that sieged the Zambian people

American Philosopher, Robert Greenleaf once opined that, “The first and most important choice a leader makes is the choice to serve, without which one’s capacity to lead is severely limited.” And American Renowned Author and Pastor, John C. Maxwell also posited that, “True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not to enrich the leader.”
On The Perspective today, focus is on the role of the government [the executive in particular]. According to Article 90 of the Constitution [Amendment] Act no.2 of 2016, “The Executive authority derives from the people of Zambia and shall be exercised in a manner compatible with the principles of social justice and for the people’s well-being and benefit.”

The foregoing provision has stated in no uncertain terms that the role of the government in a nation is all about ‘social justice’, ‘people’s well-being and benefits’. In simple terms, social justice is the fairness in the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.

When the Zambian people changed government in 2011, it was with the view to benefit. Unfortunately, the last seven years especially, proved to be disastrous for the people. The citizens suffered untold misery and government did not care; and the buck stopped at the President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, because every state agent that performed their functions, did so under the Republican President’s name.

Former POTUS, Harry S. Truman had an inscription on his desk which read that, “The Buck stops here”, referring to his ultimate responsibility as the head of government. And the Zambian Constitution in Article 91 provides that, “…(2) The executive authority of the State vests in the President and, subject to this Constitution, shall be exercised directly by the President or through public officers or other persons appointed by the President. (3) The President shall, in exercise of the executive authority of the State — (e) promote and protect the rights and freedoms of a person; and….” And in Article 92 (1), the Constitution provides that, “The President shall perform, with dignity, leadership and integrity, the acts that are necessary and expedient for, or reasonably incidental to, the exercise of the executive authority.”

Therefore, Lungu shares the blame for bad governance with the whole Patriotic Front [PF] party members, who were his advisers. Article 114 (1) of the Constitution states that, “The functions of Cabinet are as follows: (f) advise the President on matters relating to the performance of executive functions.” (2) Cabinet shall take collective responsibility for Cabinet decisions.” Article 113 gives the composition of Cabinet as follows; “There shall be a Cabinet consisting of the — (a) President; (b) Vice-President; (c) Ministers; and (d) Attorney-General, as ex-officio member.”

Under the PF administration, there were a number of areas where the former regime, either by themselves or through the state agencies had presided over, conspicuously failed to exercise due diligence in the execution of their duties. Just to cite a few examples in the health sector especially;

I) Procurement of faulty ventilators for the university teaching hospital

In the September 7, 2021 an audit of Ministry of Health accounts for the year ended December 31, 2020 revealed that the University Teaching Hospital had been using faulty ventilators…which could not accurately measure the levels of oxygen being administered to patients on ventilation.

It is an established practice in procurement that when you are procuring some equipment, acceptance tests are conducted. And they may include String Testing, Systems Integration Testing [SIT] and the Final Acceptance Testing [FAT]. These tests are also known as Site Acceptance Tests [SAT], because they are done at the vendor’s premises and in the presence of the client’s representatives, who are technologically well off or competent in that field. The contract price usually includes the cost for these tests and they are done before sanctioning delivery, and they are done in the interest of the client, to lessen chances of non-conformances and other risks of failure.

So the major reason for SATs is to assess or verify compliance to procurement specifications and the functionality and capabilities of the product and system. For ventilators, they should ensure that they are well calibrated. One is left to wonder if these internationally recognised procurement good practices were followed when acquiring the faulty ventilators that had been in use at the highest referral hospital in the land, the University Teaching Hospital [UTH]. The question that begs answers, off course, with justification is; how many lives were lost due to faulty ventilators?

II) Procurement of defective condoms, gloves and other medical kits

A state owned tabloid, the Zambia Daily Mail in its January 7, 2021 edition reported that, “Medical Stores Limited (MSL) was allegedly authorised by the Ministry of Health to distribute leaking condoms and defective gloves worth over US$224,000 supplied by Honeybee Pharmacy despite the commodities failing tests by the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS).”

And according to Audrey Natsai Simango, a Zimbabwean freelance journalist, “No recall happened, and no public warning was issued. The distribution of faulty Honeybee condoms, pregnancy test kits, and latex gloves into communities continued…ZABS agency examined sample batches of Honeybee condoms…Honeybee failed to meet ISO-4074 standards…The four-month timeline from September [2020], to ignoring laboratory tests findings, up to January [2021], smells to me a corrupt pact…”

This is a case of professional recklessness of its highest order, risking millions of our citizens with a plethora of deadly venereal diseases. Is the country able to assess the social, economic and health impacts on the society? How many unwanted pregnancies came up as a result of the same scandal? Off course, bearing in mind that such pregnancies could ultimately produce ‘street kids’. And how many people have actually contracted deadly diseases as the result?

Whoever was involved must account for their oversight. Section 183 of the Penal Code Act, Cap. 87 of the Laws of Zambia, provides that, “Any person who unlawfully or negligently does any act which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe to be, likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life, is guilty of a misdemeanour.” Let the powers that be take interest and bring everyone to book, justice must be done.

III) Procurement of fake COVID-19 vaccines

In September 1, 2021, information emerged that Lusaka businessman Valden Findlay’s company Chrismar Earthmoving Equipment imported fake COVID-19 vaccines for supply to the Ministry of Health. The Zambia Medicine Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) confirmed that 10,000 doses of the vaccine…ZAMRA and the Ministry of Health knew that these vaccines did not meet the World Health Organisation standards, but were not destroying them at the time.

Despite knowing that the vaccines were fake, government was still determined to distribute and administer to unsuspecting citizens. And the only probable reason is because it benefited the system. The vaccines were only destroyed after the PF was voted out of power, a clear indication that those deals were sanctioned by the higher powers within the PF government. And the buck stops with the Lungu in this case.

It goes without saying that Edgar Chagwa Lungu presided over a criminal organisation of heartless beings, who risked the Zambia people. Many lives were sacrificed at the PF’s altar of self-aggrandisement. The PF did not deserve to be in government. It is good that they are out and they should never again be allowed anywhere near the corridors of power. For today I will end here; it’s Au revoir, from EBP.

For comments: elbardogma@yahoo.com

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