MEDICAL practitioner Dr Aaron Mujajati says the fight against COVID-19 in Zambia is frustrating because leaders are in the forefront of abrogating the laid-down preventive guidelines.

In an interview, Dr Mujajati observed that the disregard of COVID-19 guidelines had started from the highest level, adding that it should not be a surprise that the country was expected to experience a spike in cases by next month.

“If you see the disregard of COVID-19 prevention measures at the highest level, who then should listen? When we see all these gatherings, politicians are having concerts, music concerts, and politicians gathering people for political gatherings, no COVID-19 measures anywhere in place, and we shouldn’t be surprised that there is a spike coming. There is a second wave coming, why are we surprised? We shouldn’t be surprised and until we change our behaviour, COVID-19 will continue to disrupt our lives. We need to see exemplary behaviour at all levels not where I speak one way and act another way, who is going to listen?” Dr Mujajati asked.

“And we are seeing all these things and then today, we are saying, ‘oh, by the way, brace yourselves for a new wave, second wave of COVID-19.’ But why are you surprised? For me, that’s my problem, why are we acting surprised and why should we even start warning people? They know what needs to be done, they know what needs to happen. You know, sometimes, there is what we call ‘information fatigue’ where we are saying the same thing over and over again, but the people we look up to are behaving the exact opposite.”

He added that the rate at which guidelines were being flouted had begun to cast doubt on the existence of COVID-19 in the country.

“Just over the weekend, there was a huge concert at Woodlands Stadium, huge, massive concert and you say we still have COVID-19 in Zambia? How many times have politicians gathered their people and sometimes you wonder if there is still COVID-19 in Zambia,” Dr Mujajati said.

“If men and women who wield more authority than I do are acting in the opposite direction, even if I spoke, who is going to listen? So, my problem is that it’s frustrating that we have COVID-19, we have all these things going on and then you see people, when I saw that gathering at Woodlands Stadium, I was in shock! And I was like, ‘maybe we no longer have COVID-19 in Zambia, maybe it’s finished.’ So, really, I feel very frustrated with the way we are managing COVID-19, the way we are behaving towards COVID-19 as a community at all layers and that if we don’t take care of ourselves, we will see these numbers continue to go up and our lives will be disrupted. You see, we don’t want to go into another lockdown, we saw how disruptive the last one was, nobody wants a lockdown, you saw how our children were disrupted at school.”

He added that leaders should lead by example as the general citizenry tended to do what they see as opposed to what they heard.

“Any activity that requires national mobilisation, or any behaviour that requires national mobilisation, it needs to be modelled and to model that behaviour, the leaders of that society need to model that behaviour. Now, when your behaviour is not modelled, it doesn’t matter what you say as an analyst, which is what I am saying, provided there are all these images that are showing that at certain layers of leadership, COVID-19 is not taken as a serious matter; people tend to do what we do, they rarely do what we say. They will see I am doing as Dr Mujajati, assuming I am in leadership, that’s what they will do,” Dr Mujajati said.

He added that the spike in the UK and US stemmed from relaxation in health measures, which was exactly the case in Zambia.

“Do you know that the UK on Thursday, this week, they are going into a national lockdown because of the second wave, why? Because even there, precautions went through the window. In the US, COVID-19 has a new spike, why? Because of these (2020 presidential) elections that they have, they have also been having these rallies and things like that and they are experiencing this spike. Now, even here, apparently, government is expecting a new spike, but the thing is look, there has been some sort of a relaxation of commitment and that relaxation, unfortunately, and I am sure you have been seeing the images, it’s across the board,” said Dr Mujajati, who, however, called on citizens to ensure they took precautions and avoid crowds to prevent a further spread of the disease.