‘Take responsibility in fighting the pandemic’

LIFE seems to be getting back to normal after a long spell under strict COVID-19 measures. Since Friday when Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo eased the restrictions, there has been some bliss in some sectors of the economy! There’s no doubt the pandemic has wreaked havoc in all sectors of our economy – in our lives. Any measure introduced and and to ameliorate the situation are welcome. and pointing to a return to normalcy – a semblance to pre-Covid era – is hugely positive.

But our concern is about the fast-growing trend in Hakainde Hichilema’s new dawn administration of not pulling in one direction – the apparent lack of cohesion. This makes us wonder the motive behind the easing of the Covid restrictions. We say so because a day earlier, on Thursday, the President was warning about the fourth wave. He reiterated that the Coronavirus has claimed lives of many people during the first, second and third waves. Hakainde stressed that, “[The] third wave killed a lot of our people. Let’s not have short memories. A lot of our people died during the third wave! This pandemic is deadly. We say what we are saying because the fourth wave is coming. It will be upon us very soon! It will be deadly. We must act together…Part of our mission out there, those faraway lands, was to ensure that we get the required support to combat this Coronavirus – to bring it under control. Please, let’s respect science; masks are still important. Let’s protect loved ones next door to us. We made our case at the UN General Assembly that Covid knows no borders. The rich countries are vaccinating their people [but] we’ve only managed to vaccinate three per cent…70 per cent of Zambia’s eligible population was supposed to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of this year. [But] we won’t do it because we don’t have the resources. So, we have asked the global community – at the UN level – to increase the vaccines available to lesser developed countries like us. We made our case very clear; we were emphatic. The message was heard [and] more vaccines are coming. But we have vaccine hesitancy. Some of us are reeling in whatever beliefs that somebody is going to control us genetically. That is not true, please. Don’t allow more of our loved ones to die. I have been vaccinated – double vaccination. My wife has been vaccinated; my children have been vaccinated. We’ll encourage all of you to take the vaccination. Don’t wait until your uncle is dead. We have appointed a Covid advisor to work with the Ministry of Health experts to protect our frontline staff. We need to take care of our people. My appeal to you (Zambians) is that can we take responsibility in fighting this pandemic.”

If the President is appealing – urging taking responsibility – why would Sylvia make an announcement that seems to be contradicting the master? Another bombshell – remember statements on market and bus stations’! Now it’s the Ministry of Health tempting the President’s arm! It seems Sylvia didn’t attend nor follow Thursday’s press conference. If she did, she is disproving her President’s estimation of the intensity and presence of the pandemic in Zambia.

Given our citizens’ hesitancy towards getting inoculated, how is Sylvia going to motivate them now that she has ‘liberated’ them?

How do you relax Covid restrictions when your citizen’s vaccination levels are dismal? What has motivated the lifting of the restrictions? Why are we having these contradictions? Is the Ministry of Health saying Hakainde’s warning that the fourth wave will be serious is hot air? Who should we believe in? What’s wrong here? Is the ministry fighting the President or the presidency is acting without information? What’s happening in the new dawn? Is there COVID-19 or not? Is it open season now, especially that there’s already vaccination hesitancy? Where to?

Unless there is something that we don’t know, the position taken by the Ministry of Health is misplaced. There is a Covid advisor at State House, and that speaks to how the presidency has committed itself to fighting the pandemic. But to hear the new position of the Ministry of Health on the pandemic, we are left to wonder where the confusion, or is it mere miscommunication, is coming from. We hope to hear a consolidated position from the Ministry of Health as well as the office of the presidential Covid advisor. Otherwise, inconsistencies such as the ones synonymous with the PF administration are not welcome. Let that confusion go with PF.

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