By Kapya Kaoma.
On July 12, 2021, HH delivered his speech on President Lungu’s failure to address the COVID-19 Pandemic. He sought to play Joe Biden against Donald Trump, but came out as Trump–only the audience was Zambian. Like Trump, Bally ducked from topic to topic while exposing his ignorance on COVID-19, the government workings, and the health care system. It was his own making. He recently belittled the Pandemic by rushing to ECZ and to the Courts to litigate against the legality of the suspension of political rallies during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
HH should have begun by acknowledging that the COVID-19 Pandemic is not a partisan issue–it affects all Zambians regardless of party affiliation. Then call on all political parties and stakeholders to meet with President Lungu to see how best to mitigate the spread of the virus, now and especially during the upcoming elections. There is a need to plan on how people would get to the polls and vote safely, as well as protect poll workers from the virus.
He should have called on the government to provide free masks to the public and that the spread of the virus must be contained by all means necessary–masks save lives. All Zambians must compliment government efforts by donating masks to those who cannot afford–we are in this together. He could have pledged a number of masks he would have donated–thereby claiming moral leadership from President Lungu.
Thereafter petition the president to issue the mask mandate. Every person must wear a mask in public. Sadly, Bally blew it up–he spoke about the pandemic without masking up. His team must comprehend that how he presents himself to the public is political. Worse still, he didn’t tell us his position on masks, aside from that people entering markets will be required to wear masks. Is this expected in busses, in shops, schools and in other places of common interest?
In addition, he should have encouraged people to get vaccinated. Like Joe Biden, he spoke about following science but made no effort to tell us who his COVID-19 team would be. He said people are afraid of vaccinations because of conspiracy (the word he failed to pronounce) theories out there, but then blamed PF cadres for getting all the vaccines in Zambia–which is an oxymoron. Besides, he told us the vaccines won’t be compulsory, but it will take 12 months to vaccinate the whole Zambia. This is a very slow and threatening rate. And how will the country reopen when people are not compelled to be vaccinated?
He should have avoided going into the workings of the programs he didn’t understand. HH, for example, promised to move COVID-19 vaccination from the Department of Infectious Diseases at UTH to the Department of Child Health at the Ministry of Health. The rationale? Experience. Not so fast. COVID-19 is an Infectious disease and belongs to the very department. The vaccination process includes scientific research about the virus–thus asking another department to do the work is mere ignorance. In addition, the COVID-19 vaccination is at a grand scale compared to child immunization. Since the Department of Child Health has children and mothers to serve, adding COVID-19 vaccination to its workload will only overwhelm it. We are talking about an additional 8 to 12 million more people to vaccinate. Ideological programs like the one he is proposing are only a waste of resources and time.
Similarly, he didn’t need to make grand budgetary promises–doctors and nurses are not the only ones on the frontlines. Yes. We need more doctors, nurses and nurse aids. Bring back all retired doctors and nurses and pay the military officers allowances. Add volunteer packages too. Suspend PAYE for doctors and nurses for up to a year. Before you know it, other civil servants will join in demanding allowances. So where would Bally get the money for his promises?
In his Trumpian zeitgeist, HH believes Zambia has the capacity to make all the equipment needed to treat patients of COVID-19. Thus he shamelessly stole Joe Biden’s condemnation of Trump’s failure to activate the Defense Production Act; the law that would have allowed companies to produce extra “ventilators” needed to keep COVID-19 patients alive. HH used it on Lungu–he blamed him for lack of Oxygen in hospitals and promised to produce enough Oxygen for all health care centers across the nation once in office. Unfortunately Oxygen is not all there is to the treatment of COVID-19 patients. There are other things involved.
HH also promised to build temporary hospitals using tents, stadiums, and schools–if the United States did it, “why can’t we did it also?” What he does not know is that those beds would need to be wired, powered up, and fitted with hospital equipment. Hospital beds are not just mattresses–we will only be creating death chambers and risking health workers’ lives. The U.S did so because it had funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Just in 2020, for example, New York alone sought $60 billion for COVID-19. Zambia’s capacity and resources to produce equipment and beds required to fully treat COVID-19 patients are highly limited–we should maximize prevention over treatment.
HH is a smart businessman but a yucky politician. He always blows up chances to be presidential when opportunities avail themselves.
Bally fixed himself again.