UPND’s Plans to Politicize Cholera Outbreak Heightened

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A WOMAN receiving a cholera vaccine in Lusaka’s Chawama township
A WOMAN receiving a cholera vaccine in Lusaka’s Chawama township

By Sunday Chanda

We can confirm that UPND is not letting go of its agenda to politicize the Cholera outbreak, and now plans to launch a “Cholera Committee” when it is public knowledge that Government is coordinating responses in conjunction with other co-operating partners as part of a multi-pronged and multi-sectoral strategy. The UPND Cholera Committee and its proposed actions are schemes by the Opposition party to politicize the Cholera outbreak and “water-down” Government led multi-sectoral strategies.

1. A very brief history of cholera in Zambia

The pattern of cholera outbreaks in Zambia over the past decades has always been the same – with Lusaka usually being the epicentre. From history, cholera has always been limited in terms of time, place and person. For any outbreaks globally – including the current cholera outbreak in Zambia – the first thing to do is to implement disease “containment measures”, namely: isolation of patients and quarantine, and the full package of related health strategies to curb the spread of the disease.

Responsibly, the PF government has effectively led these “containment measures” in line with global best practices for handling cholera and related outbreaks. Therefore, UPND’s attacks on Government’s sound “disease containment measures” are both irresponsible and pathetic.

Against this background, we wonder what UPND seeks to achieve by creating a parallel and highly politicized committee at this stage. Indeed, it is this sought of desperation that Zambians have continued to reject because it smells of sheer opportunism without due regard to those infected, affected, and the deceased. Truth be told, it is immoral for UPND to seek political mileage from the sore backs of Zambians “infected, affected and killed” by the current cholera outbreak.

Therefore, we wish to call on the UPND leadership to abandon their intended Cholera Committee and, (a) engage in some soul searching to understand that politics have their place and it’s not now; (b) support Government’s “containment measures” which are being implemented to prevent, control and cure cholera countrywide.

2. A key ingredient to fighting epidemics including cholera outbreaks

One of the reasons why the Ebola outbreak was most deadly in West Africa in recent history was because certain opportunistic and/or ignorant people encouraged entire communities to doubt medical interventions being led by their respective governments. As a result, communities started fighting against the very measures designed to save their lives. Unfortunately, this lack of trust in Government fed to the people by opportunistic individuals led to thousands of preventable deaths in West Africa.

The current cholera epidemic is a tragedy which calls for the rest of the Country to pull together by putting aside twisted partisan agendas; and encourage communities to trust and abide by current “disease containment measures” being led by the government. Precious lives have been lost and everyone is affected, and morality demands that all manner of politics is set aside.

3. Other lessons learned from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa

Epidemics such as Ebola, cholera and others require stronger coordination among disease “prevention”, “control” and “care”.

Because of the above-mentioned lessons, the PF government has been implementing:

(a)  stronger integration of cholera “prevention”, “control”, and “care” including assisting bereaved families with safer burials.

(These are solemn moments which UPND should not, and must not, politicize).

(b) stronger incident Reporting, Surveillance and Adequate Resourcing in Lusaka, Copperbelt and nationwide.

Perhaps, UPND know the full extent of these government measures currently underway? But why their noise? Perhaps UPND cannot help but be mischievous and seek political mileage anywhere. Or perhaps we give UPND a benefit of the doubt that they do not know about these government efforts currently underway? If that is the case, then UPND will only misinform and mislead its base and the national at large.

4. The Bio-Social Perspective to disease

The PF government is alive to the fact that all diseases have a biological and a social aspect to it. This is the reason why President Lungu stated while visiting Heroes stadium that “government continues to work towards efforts to provide safe drinking water to all Zambians everywhere”. It is these efforts which UPND must commend and support if they are truly a genuine party which cares about the welfare of the masses in Zambia.

In this regard, the UPND leadership must also be ashamed and apologize to the Zambian people for allowing their symbol-raising and sloganeering cadres to disrupt public peace on a matter that affects everyone irrespective of their political affiliation. Zambians must remind the UPND that the Country cannot prioritize cheap politics over public health.

Patriotic Front was founded by the son of a cook and he knew what suffering felt like. Today, Patriotic Front is led by a son of a marketeer and he understands the plight of the marketeers more than the elitist UPND leadership because he can relate. As such, the Patriotic Front leadership would be the last one to neglect traders. We Government takes such containment measures, these are aimed at strengthening “prevention, control and care” strategies needed to combat epidemics, in this case, cholera.

By implementing strict “containment measures”, PF respects and cares for public life and public health. Similarly, by campaigning against and politicizing government’s “disease containment measures” the UPND leadership neither cares for nor respects the lives of Zambians.

As PF, we therefore refuse to politicize ongoing interventions on Cholera prevention, control and cure. Patriotic Front remains proactive in engaging relevant ministries and monitoring the Cholera situation. It is the aim of the PF government to eradicate Cholera from our communities and consign it to the past, never to return. However, this also requires that other players including the UPND be more responsible and stop politicizing disease outbreaks, and stop misleading Zambians. This trust, and not division, in communities will enable these necessary “containment measures” to yield desired results and consign cholera to the past – never to return.

The ruling Party is committed to seeing that hygiene improves in our towns and communities, as well as that all displaced vendors – majority of whom are PF – have alternative trading places as soon as it is no longer a health risk for the people. We continue to assure our people that the measures taken so far are meant to protect them and their loved ones. Let us therefore continue to work together to address the current outbreak, and make future cholera outbreaks very unlikely.

The Author is the Ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party in Zambia’s Media Director

29 COMMENTS

    • Just finished watching HH’s press briefing. Where is Lungu? He should be giving the country hope in this time of cholera tragedy other than hiding in Statehouse. Is he scared of answering to corruption questions?

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    • PF has been in power since 2011. The current cholera outbreak squarely lies on their shoulders and what it has done is show us how incompetent PF govt is. The loss of lives was unnecessary

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    • Nobody reads graffiti from that junk Sunday. If you pick an animal to compare with Sunday’s character it will be hyena.
      Hyena is annoying, always want to please lion, so can eat some bones. But no one likes hyenas, even ticks spits its blood.

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    • PF, this is a self-inflicted gushing wound. It needs more than just a band aid. The dizziness you are beginning to experience is due to excessive loss of blood. Please stay alive. Don’t die.

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  1. Mwembwa mwe bak0swe mumpoto. This is a National tragedy and we need all hands on deck. What’s wrong with opposition parties helping out?

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  2. I can’t believe what I have just read, Sunday Chanda talks about a brief history of cholera in Zambia, so if they knew all this why didn’t the PF Govt put measures in place to prevent the outbreak of cholera. You know that this happens year in and year out and you come into office and do nothing about it but blame the opposition. Which party is in power Mr Sunday Chanda? What is more annoying he even writes down what he thinks are measures of preventing cholera. This is sickening, pls people read what he has written, you won’t believe the kind of leaders we have.

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    • I can read your comment, you are telling me.
      I can’t read rubbish from Sunday Chanda.
      Imagine all what soldiers did, has been spoiled by PF secretariat.

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  3. So the only contribution “ba” or sorry “ka” Sunday Chanda is making towards the fight against cholera is this nonsense he writes? Why can’t he for once write about progressive features every stakeholder including opposition UPND has made toward the cholera fight? In fact Sunday and his sister Mumbi seem to be the only ones politicizing the cholera outbreak.

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  4. SUNDAY YOU ARE AS IRRITATING AS MEASLES SO IT S OK FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO BRING IN PEOPLE FROM ISRAEL TO HELP WITH CHOLERA BUT AN OPPOSITION PARTY HELPING TO SAVE PEOPLES LIVES BECOME SUCH A BIG THING TO YOU? GROW UP MAN IT IS NOT PF MEMBERS THAT ARE DYING ONLY IT IS ZAMBIAN PEOPLE REGARDLESS OF PARTY OR TRIBE. ,

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  5. Zambians of today are generally irresponsible! If the Zambians we have today were the citizens to fight for this country’s independence, Zambia would still be under colonial rule. By not holding Lungu and his PF gang responsible and accountable for these tragedies, we prove ourselves as irresponsible citizens! Maybe the Cholera vaccines are making us wake up for once as evidenced by the Kanyama spontaneous uprising … kikikiki

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  6. Am sorry to have to use such strong language, but Sunday Chanda is a despicable, abhorrent, disgusting, filthy lowlife. He epitomizes what makes Africa backward. A real scumbag

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  7. One of the 2 lying chandas from state house……

    You have spent billions and are currently running begging to the IMF and whole communities of our people still have no clean drinking water or proper sanitation.

    You , lungu and the other PF rats are nothing but theives……..the whole lot of you.

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  8. UPND is once again barking a wrong tree. its obvious that the govt decisive reponse to cholera has been on point and as such cholera will be defeated. So it is surprising that UPND can take on a winnable case as a point of gain political mileage. UPND will come out losers once the disease is defeated just as they came out losers on the bill of rights

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    • Defeated where ??? We still have rains next year , and what are you going to say , defeated again ???

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  9. If we as blacks had any brains we should be building on our tradgeies and truning them into positives ……..a regular cleaning and drain maintenance schedule can now be formed payed for by traders via bussiness rates ……this will provide employment and bring sanity to our markets and trading spaces….but revenue collection must be prioritised and channelled to the right teams……the PF caders who exploit traders and those traders that go and dance for lungu at the airport need proper jobs……no more exploiting and blackmailing traders.

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  10. spaka it is the same short sightedness that has cost UPND in all elections. suppose there is no cholera next year UPND will have nothing to talk about. just like they got stuck with the petition. when it was thrown out UPND got stuck in the groove and failed to move on

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    • If it is not cholera it will be more corruption or mismangment or more borrowing to talk about, don’t worry about that.

      With these corrupt clueless theives that is a guaranteed, there will be plenty ammunition…

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    • UPND NEVER GOT STUCK, THE PETITION HAS BEEN BLOCKED. PERIOD. GIVE THEM A CHANCE AND YOU WILL BE HOLDING YOUR MOUTH IN WONDER.

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    • Hehehehe the PF koswe rats expecting others to wipe their backsides for them while they loot. ……..

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  11. Ba Chanda, let’s face it, there is absolutely no justification for Zambia and Lusaka in particular to be experiencing cholera outbreaks year in year out. I support my party PF but on this one people in charge of managing and taking care of our city, Local government and LCC in particular have failed lamentably.
    That notwithstanding, you must realise one thing in this political sphere. UPND is under seize from their corrupt, bitter and incompetent captain, the Under 5. Where people see tarred roads, HH sees gravel roads, where there is electricity HH sees load shedding, where there Kwacha appreciates, HH sees it get worse, where are hospitals HH sees mortuaries, where mealie meal prices go down, HH sees anger.
    It’s therefore important to keep focus on what distinguishes this dreamer…

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  12. Spanish authorities are checking out Messi Foundation for possible tax evasion charges. Paradise ion Panama must be checked out too. HH is hiding Zambian money there. Tax evasion.

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  13. To say the cholera situation is entirety PFs problem is wrong. Was Kanyama built after 2011 and sunk over 2000 unhygenic wells in that time?? What about the other compounds that started balloning the moment population in lsk shot up?? This is not a PF problem but a national disaster which has its roots in the early 2000s when everyone started to flock to Lusaka looking for better opportunities while the local authority was getting diluted by MMD party cadres.

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  14. This is not a laughing matter it concerns our lives.All politicians need to work together and come up with good plans to clean the country
    I salute the PF government because they have taken bold decisions to clean up the country..honestly imagine somebody selling raw or cooked meat after using dirty toilets or the street as s toilet.prevention is better than cure.We also as citizens have a role to play. Let us support good things.Will the people rioting be able to make money in their graves.

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  15. As a party which has not boycotted any national event because we recognize the government in power we shall not form parallel structures to fight cholera through our SG we shall consult and use the GRZ approved hotline to render assistance. In America when there were floods and property destroyed the republicans did not set a parallel structure but showed maturity by supporting bills in senate for assistance and also by delivering warm clothes food and other such basics to the designated areas. Thus we have engaged the PF to supply food to the affected people until they can return to the streets we shall be delivering bags of mealie meal and dry rations to the people of Kanyama through the Disaster Management Unit.

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