PANOS Institute Southern Africa Executive Director, Vusumuzi SIFILE says citizens should hold duty bearers accountable on various issues affecting their welfare in the country.
Mr Sifile said this during the provincial stakeholder sensitization meeting dubbed amplifying citizens’ voices to push for accountability in the COVID-19 response in Zambia held at Country Lodge in Mongu district of Western province.
He said citizens should be equipped with necessary knowledge and skills as they deliberate on issues affecting them in the district.
The Executive Director said the media should be in the forefront of disseminating correct information so that citizens can access messages based on facts.
Mr Sifile said in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, citizens should hold government and different players to know how the resources and other materials are distributed to various communities in the country.
He said the media should desist from feeding people with wrong information as doing so will be like giving people poison, adding that there should be proper sharing and facilitate the usage of information for the purpose of development.
Mr Sifile said the government is spending huge sums of money in a bid to counteract the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as such citizens should not be passive observers but ensure that active participation is sought from everyone so that the pandemic is brought to manageable levels.
He said PANOS is carrying out a project of sensitizing people through various media platforms in the province so that citizens are aware of the much technical assistance that partners are bringing on board to cushion the impact of the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Western province Chairperson for people living with disabilities, Abraham SITALI has appealed to the government to disseminate the COVID-19 pandemic messages so that all the differently disabled people in the province are not left behind.
Mr Sitali said more corona virus information should be done in braille to enable the people in the region to have access as the disease does not know the living conditions of the people as it can affect anyone in the province.
And Namakau MUKETOI from the Network of people living with HIV/AIDS in Mongu district said her organization has recorded a number of people defaulting in accessing Art retroviral treatment from various health institutions in fear of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ms Muketoi said more sensitization programmes should be done by all stakeholders to assist people on ART access their medications.
And Mongu District Commissioner, Bright TOMBI said all the people were at liberty and free to visit his office for more information on what the government was doing to the people during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Tombi said government offices in the district were operating in a transparent manner adding that holding government officials should be accompanied with facts in order to avoid speculations.
He has, however, called on people in the district to join hands and foster unity as the government was working on finding lasting solutions on how to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.