By Nevers Mumba
I trust that by now, most of us would have had time to listen in and perhaps take in the meaning and impact of the address by the Republican President.
Without much ado, I would like to put on record the following as our official response.
1. ECONOMIC RESCUE
In his speech, the President made it very clear that his basic strategy was to try and preserve life, while also putting in place an economic rescue package of sorts to save the business houses and the economy in general.
While we wish to commend the effort to save the selected areas of business, we wish to point out that the PF government has so far made key pronouncements including the K10 billion rescue package from the Bank of Zambia, and the other Economic Rescue interventions announced by honourable Bwalya Ngandu, Minister of Finance.
We notice that all these interventions are aimed at saving the “big businesses” with little or nothing to be felt by the poorest or smallest businesses and at the household level.
We know that some of these stimulus packages such as the K10 billion come with an inherent moratorium, which allows some period of time to pass before the banks have to pay back, to effectively cushion the negative impact of COVID-19.
However, WE DO NOT SEE how any of the benefits of these rescue packages are going to benefit the MAJORITY ZAMBIANS who include the self-employed, young people and the poor in the compounds.
Our suggestion is that the President must follow up on these interventions and make a pronouncement that will either CURTAIL or REDUCE the following across the board:
The logic behind this is that these four expenses is what gives most Zambians headaches in their quest to provide for their families. While we expect an outcry from landlords regarding this, it must always be made clear that EVERYONE IN THE ECONOMY has suffered the same fate and have had their income somewhat CUT or totally lost, Landlords CANNOT BE THE ONLY ONES GOING ABOUT WITH business as usual.
In fact, under the stimulus package offered to the banks, most banks are under obligation to also pass on the benefit of the soft loans to their Loan DEBTORS, among which most of the landlords fall.
We demand a reduction to at least 1/3rd of whatever everyone pays as at present.
STILL NO LOCKDOWN/ REOPENING OF PLACES OF WORSHIP
Our position on this matter has been and continues to be very consistent.: MR.PRESIDENT, PLEASE LOCK DOWN THE MOST AFFECTED CITIES LIKE LUSAKA.
I know that some sections of the society and especially the liberal church might disagree with this and cite various reasons why we must be celebrating as the church. Our position is that NOBODY KNOWS the direction, speed, and momentum that this deadly Corona Virus pandemic is going to take. It is, therefore, more expedient even for the body of believers (the church) to treat this as a plague. We should not risk our people’s lives.
In the Bible, God told the children of Israel to go on LOCKDOWN, and place blood on the door lintels and side posts in order to preserve the life of their first borns when the Death Angel would pass. So Even though God had promised them deliverance, he still required obedience and submission to his will at household level for them to survive. Every life in the homes that were on LOCKDOWN was preserved.
It is no different today. We call ourselves a Christian Nation and we have prayed and stopped COVID-19 from having the devastating EFFECTS on the lives of our people as we have no capacity to deal with it in large numbers. We believe that this is true, but we must claim the blood of Jesus on the door posts of our hearts, and stay IN DOORS on lock down, until the death angel passes. Only in this way shall Zambia be Saved from the extreme spread of the virus.
We insist that the government should follow through with the declaration that we are at war as the President said exactly 4 weeks ago. But we must follow through and do what a nation at war does. Spare no means, SHUT DOWN, PRESERVE LIVES, AT WHATEVER COST.
To ask the church to go back to normal services at the height of the Pandemic is as good as leading God’s people to the slaughter house. This is not time to backslide. To the contrary, it is time to step up by declaring a total lockdown.
Having said that, we also recognise that the President has the power to take the country in whatever direction he deems fit, that is within his authority. None the less, we also wish to place on record that we can provide leadership as opposition leaders by giving timely leadership advise in matters that affect the going concern status of the nation, matters such as this.