Infected Lawmaker Accuses Zambian Authorities of Lack of Leadership in Fight against Covid-19 Pandemic

Zambia is seeing a new surge in Covid-19 patients, after recording 472 new cases in the 24 hours leading to July 25. This is the highest daily record since the first two cases were recorded in March 2020.

In an exclusive interview with Timescape, a Lawmaker, Princess Kasune Zulu, has attributed the swell up in the number of new positive Covid-19 cases to lack of leadership in the management of the pandemic in the country.

“There was very little leadership from the beginning. There were quick announcements to go back to congregating, back to work and different things when people where just beginning to learn about the guidelines. Even then, some of us openly argued that this was not good as it was sending mixed messages to the public. In addition, many of our areas especially rural areas have no running water nearby. So, washing hands regularly regardless will be tricky for some. Sanitizer is expensive and out of reach for many,’’ Princess Kasune says.

This development comes in the wake of Minister of Health Dr. Chitalu Chilufya announcing, Friday July 24 that 15 Members of Parliament had tested positive for the pandemic following tests that were conducted at the National Assembly after the House adjourned sine die, Tuesday July 21.

Princess Kasune, Keembe Member of Parliament who also tested positive to Covid-19 tells Timescape Magazine that her positive results did not come as a surprise as very few people are wearing masks in Zambia or keeping social distance. 

Princess Kasune, Keembe Representative- Woman of Substance

“... and as lawmakers of the country, we should have done better. We could have conducted our meetings virtually. Nevertheless, Parliament continued meeting in person with very few measures in place. Until two of our honourable colleagues died, prior to that, two staff members had died…that's when Parliament adjourned sine die on Tuesday 21 July…’

She says by that time of adjournment, it is possible that several Members of Parliament and staff were where already infected.

“What about the lives of the members of staff? And the family members each of us were going back to? Or Constituencies? If banks close due to one case, as a Parliament we should have shown leadership and done better…”

She notes that it is going to be difficult for lawmakers to effectively contribute to the fight against Covid-19 because they now must stay home, avoid crowds, and adhere to health guidelines.

Princess Kasuna is of the view that the biggest task remains with the health workers and the Minister of Health to continue sending updates, guidance, using various modes of communication through all the different types of communication channels so that even people in the rural parts of the country get the message.

“If Covid-19 infections get there we are in big trouble, God help us! And the children who are back in schools, our educators, the marketers, taxi drivers, people on public transport. I do not know…’’

She has called for individual and collective responsibility that rises above political interests in fighting the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

“The Presidency in particular and the Executive have to be consistent. We should have learnt from other countries; quickly relaxing guidelines is dangerous. People get relaxed and send wrong signals…’’

And when asked by Timescape Magazine if she was bothered that she had contracted the virus, especially with her known underlying condition, Princess Kasune says she is not, adding that everyone should take  Covid-19 seriously and adhere to the health guidelines.

Princess Kasune, Keembe Member of Parliament in Zambia

 

“We have to survive it! This is why its key to adhere to health guidelines and those in leadership must show continuous leadership based on science, not political wisdom. This is time for science to lead the way…my new slogan is that let us do all that is humanly possible, then leave God to do the rest!... Prayer alone will not do it, but action and prayers put together,” she points out.

 

Meanwhile, government has discouraged funeral attendance following a surge in the number of Covid-19 deaths. Speaking during a Covid-19 update July 24, Health Minister Dr. Chitalu Chilufya said going forward Public Health officers will be strict in supervising disposal of bodies of people who die from Covid-19 to protect their relatives.

 

“We have noted as we do our surveillance for mortality a very clear pattern of those who are unwell are linked to some crowd activities. We have noted a very clear link between those who are getting ill and funerals they attended in the recent past,” the Minister warned.

 

During another session at which he gave updates Saturday July 25, Dr. Chilufya said 472 new cases were recorded from testes done within 24 hours. He added that the cumulative number of cases stood at 4,328 with total recoveries at 1953 cases, while Covid-19 deaths and Covid-19 associated deaths account for 33 and 97 respectively. The number of Covid-19 active cases stands at 2,236.

 

Dr. Chilufya said that the Ministry was worried and feared that people would be infected due to over crowing at funerals, weddings, and parties, among other gatherings. He said Zambia was in a dangerous phase and encouraged the public to adhere to the stipulated measures clearly outlined by President Edgar Lungu against the deadly pandemic.