NATIONAL Democratic Congress (NDC) leader Chishimba Kambwili says President Edgar Lungu should come out of his comfort zone and address the nation on the outbreak of the COVID-19, which has seen three confirmed cases in Zambia so far.

And Kambwili has disputed the figures of the confirmed cases of Coronavirus being released by the Ministry of Health,

Kambwili further says Religious Minister Godfridah Sumaili is being unreasonable by trying to negotiate that churches should worship for three hours instead of the proposed one hour.

Meanwhile, UPND secretary general Stephen Katuka says this is the right time for President Lungu to show leadership.

Speaking at a press briefing, Monday, Kambwili said the Head of State was being unreasonable by remaining silent amidst the fast-spreading Coronavirus that has killed over 10,000 people worldwide so far.

He said the COVID-19 was a killer and if Zambia cannot be serious about it, then “we are as good as declaring ourselves that we don’t have a government”.

“Look people of Zambia, all the countries in the world, first and foremost, the inter-Ministerial Committees that have been formed in all the countries in the world, are being chaired by the Heads of State, Presidents and Prime Ministers. Here in Zambia, the Inter-Ministerial Committee on COVID-19 is being chaired by Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya and that shows that we are not serious as a Country. If the USA can have Donald Trump chairing the inter- Ministerial Committee of that Country and giving updates to the Americans, if the British Prime Minister can be in the forefront chairing the Committee and giving updates to the Country, if our neighbours in Tanzania can have the President chairing the Committee and giving updates to the nation, if South Africa can have the President chairing and giving updates to the nation, If Kenya can have the President chairing the Committees and giving updates to the nation, why should Zambia not do the same?” Kambwili wondered.

“I want to appeal to the President, President wherever you are, and for a lack of a better term, wherever you are hibernating, wherever you are, come out of that comfort zone and start addressing the people of Zambia over this COVID 19. We are sick and tired of seeing Chitalu Chilufya and Dora Siliya taking a front roll in this pandemic. People did not elect Chitalu Chilufya and Dora Siliya to run this Country. People of Zambia elected President Edgar Chagwa Lungu and we want to
hear from the President and nobody else.”

He said President Lungu was being unreasonable by avoiding taking the lead in updating the nation on the COVID-19 outbreak.

“President Edgar Lungu should start behaving the way other presidents are behaving across the world, where Presidents have taken it upon themselves to give updates and address their nations over these issues. And to you my fellow Zambians, this disease is very serious [so] please make sure you have soap to wash your hands. Avoid overcrowding even at funerals, at churches. Ba President uko muli konse (wherever you are) come out of that comfort zone, address the people of Zambia. You are being unreasonable, people voted for you. Napiba noku piba pantu tabomfwa aba bantu (I am even sweating because these people are adamant),” Kambwili said.

“Muleyangala noku teka ichalo. Ngatamwaba ready ukuteka ichalo (You are playing with leading a country. If you are not ready to lead), the best you can do is leave the leadership. We are sick and tired of this laissez faire [attitude]. We are a poor nation, you want to kill the people because imwe nga mwalalwa (when you get sick), you will be flown out of the country? Nga mwalwala (when you get sick) you will be given extra care. But what about the people in Mpatamatu? How about the people in Roan? How about the people in Kamfinsa?”

When reminded that the President was addressing the nation on his official Facebook page, Kambwili said other presidents around the globe did not address their countries’ citizens on Facebook.

“How many people [are on] Facebook? Ku Mporokoso ba mayo bala belenga Facebook? (Is my mother in Mporokoso on Facebook?) Do people go on Facebook? Is the Kenyan President speaking through Facebook? Is the American President speaking through Facebook? Is the South African President speaking through Facebook? What a way to communicate to the country!” he exclaimed.

The former information minister further told Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya to inform the nation on the correct statistics of those who have tested positive for COVID-19.

“The man is being investigated by the Anti-Corruption Commission but because we have degenerated into a country of no morals, the young man is even sitting on the panel giving us updates on COVID-19. This shows how unserious we are as a country! Tell us what capacity do we have as Zambia to fight COVID-19? [Tell us] if you have three testers? If you have three testers in Lusaka, can you test somebody who comes through Chirundu border? Can you test somebody who comes through Kasumbalesa border? Can you test somebody who is in Maninga? What a government! I am extremely upset! And I want to tell President Edgar Lungu, with immediate effect, start buying ventilators and send to all hospitals in Zambia because we are in trouble. And these figures you are giving us of the confirmed cases are not true because that Chinese who is being quarantined there, you did not even know about it. So what figures are you giving us? Where are you getting these statistics? Be serious! Tell us what capacity we have to test people. How many people have you tested from the time this pandemic started? How many Chinese are in Zambia who are infected and being quarantined by fellow Chinese? And those being looked after by Zambian nationals who are not trained medical personnel?” Kambwili asked.

He called on the clergy to take the pandemic very seriously and not put the lives of their congregants in danger.

“And ba mayo ba Sumaili, you were a very good pastor when you were in the church. How can you say we have increased hours of worship from one hour to three hours? Imwe mwe bantu ushe namwishiba echo muleyangala nacho? (Are you people aware of what you are playing with?) To you pastors, reverends and everybody, this disease is a killer! Avoid having people coming to church. 10 – 15 people in a church, that is acceptable but what we saw over the weekend, churches were overcrowded and then you increase from one hour of worship, you have negotiated to three hours, you are not serious! We know there is an economic benefit to it but life is precious. What is wrong with opening a bar at 16:00 and close at 16:00 hours? Ubu ubulwelwe nga waingila mu community, nga waingila mu bantu, mukapapa (When this outbreak gets to the communities, you will be shocked),” said Kambwili

And in an interview, Katuka said there was no leadership in the country.

“We have said as a country that the problem we have is lack of leadership. As a country, we have a third incidence which has been announced but our President doesn’t take these things seriously. For him, it is business as usual. As long as he has Jameson, he is happy. We expected him to come out and tell the nation and give direction. It is poor calibre of leadership. The man doesn’t know what he is doing. This is the time we should come together, support government programmes…so that this pandemic doesn’t spread,” said Katuka.