Lusaka Provincial Minister Bowman Lusambo has warned that he will whip individuals who will be found patronising bars and night clubs, disregarding a presidential directive that they close for two weeks in an effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19.

And the Kabushi PF member of parliament says it will be stupid of him as a leader to lock himself in for fear of contracting the Coronavirus instead of providing leadership to the Zambians.

Speaking in an interview, Lusambo said after carrying out an operation in some parts of Lusaka, Saturday, to check if people were adhering to President Edgar Lungu’s directive to close bars and nightclubs in view of the COVID-19 outbreak, it was disappointing that people were defying the orders.

“Government has put up measures [to fight Coronavirus]; the world is on stand still today. The issues which we are discussing today about the Coronavirus which the World Health Organization declared as a pandemic is not a casual issue, it is a crucial issue. It is very unfortunate that some of our citizens and residents feel we are playing with baby toys. These are not baby toys, these are things between life and death. Look at the way the world has been affected! Look at the UK, Italy, America with proper health care! Those countries are crying and we are here still not adhering to the Presidential directive; it is a joke!” Lusambo said.

“It is not enough for us as government to start policing people’s lives; the people themselves are supposed to be responsible; for once, let them get responsible! It was very shocking that the President has given a directive but these bar owners continue to sell beer to the people; it is not business as usual, the times that we are in are not business as usual. And most of the clubs we visited were tip offs from the public because I have offered my number, I have offered it to the people so that if anyone finds anyone opening the club, they should just call me. We did our operation and it was successful.”

He said he had already procured whips which he would be using on any individual, whether male or female, who would be found patronising bars and night clubs.

“What I have resolved now in Lusaka Province, instead of arresting those people because arresting those people and taking them to cells which will be congested and the cell rooms which we have are tiny, we can just risk the lives of those people more. So…I have bought whips…and I am not even going to get the police, I will be whipping them. I will be whipping them because I am capable of doing that; I am very capable of doing that and I am equal to the task. It is now worrisome for the elderly, instead of thinking of their own health, they want other people to think on their behalf,” Lusambo said.

“I am a parent; I am a father. The way I keep my children, if I don’t want them to jump, I tell them ‘don’t jump because you will injure yourselves. Don’t do these things because they will affect your lives’. That is the way I will be taking these elderly people who are failing to think for themselves; they would want us to think for them. Therefore, we are going to think on their behalf by doing the right thing, which is to teach them a lesson and I am not going to choose, whether it is the ladies or men, we are going to start whipping them.”

He vowed that he would not compromise the health of people in Lusaka even if it meant infringing on their human rights.

“If they say it is human rights, human rights sometimes, you can even ignore them; they have ignored human rights in the UK by staying at home. There is a curfew there! But here there is no curfew, the President has given us an opportunity to take care of our lives but we want to misbehave. I can assure you that this is not the time to joke, this is the time to be serious. I am disappointed with people who want defy President Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s directives but I can assure you for me, I respect Presidential directives and I want to show them that Presidential directives are serious directives and that we should keep them like that. Us in Lusaka Province are not going to compromise the health of our people here. Even if it means infringing on their rights, we are all ready to do that and by doing so, we will come out victorious,” Lusambo warned.

He called on councilors across the province to ensure that people adhered to the Presidential directive.

“I want to scale this downwards; I want my councilors here in Lusaka district to take part in these activities because the bars we are talking about are in their wards. Yesterday, I went to Kanyama West, that is comrade Brighton Biluma’s ward; I went to Matero/Emmasdale area, Councilor Annie Chinyata’s ward; I went to Kaunda Square where ward 33 is, Clement Muenga; I went to Garden Chilulu, that is Tarcisious Ndolesha’s ward. So, those things are happening in our wards and we need councillors and members of parliament to take charge. This fight is not for an individual, it is for all of us, we all need to get involved,” Lusambo urged.

When asked if he was not afraid of contracting Coronavirus owing to his continued movements, he said as a leader, he was ready to help people in good and bad times.

“When we lock ourselves in, then there will be no one to give leadership. The leadership is there, that is why you are seeing us, you are seeing Dr Chitalu Chilufya giving updates; you are seeing Dora giving updates; you are seeing other people doing their part and I am just doing my part as a leader. I was voted in to be a leader, not in the good times alone; I am a leader for the people in goods and bad times. I can’t run away from the people just because there is this disease; then I will be a very stupid leader because I know the people out there. Definitely, we need leadership, they will need my advice; they will need my direction; so if I lock myself in, which means there will be no leadership out there. So for me, I am the leader for the people in bad times and in good times. I know that whatever I am doing to the people of Zambia who are God’s people… I am doing them for the people of Zambia…and I know the Holy Spirit will protect me,” said Lusambo.