PF media director Sunday Chanda says UPND president Hakainde Hchilema is being insensitive in his call for government to apply a complete lockdown following the COVID-19 outbreak.

The country has seen a steady increase in the number of COVID-19 cases to 36, prompting Hichilema to call on the government to immediately implement a complete lockdown as a way of stopping the spread of the disease that was first recorded in China’s Wuhan City.

But in a statement, Chanda stated that Hichilema should observe how civil unrest has brewed in many of Zambia’s neighbouring countries that were under lockdown.

“We are very disappointed with Mr. Hakainde Hichilema’s insensitivity to the realities of the COVID-19, all in his quest to sound relevant. At a time when everyone is putting their differences aside and coming together to fight a common enemy, Mr. Hichilema is busy politicking by running knee-jerk political radio and TV adverts calling for a ‘Total Lockdown’,” Chanda stated.

“Mr. Hichilema is not making the call for a total lockdown in good faith. Mr Hichilema and UPND are aware of the civil unrest that is brewing in neighbouring countries that are under lockdown. There are long queues of people struggling to get food supplies in compounds and shops in high density areas while others are running out of stock as people queue for hours. Their armies are being compelled to use force to control crowds. A total lockdown may work for the ‘Mayadi’ elite like Mr. Hichilema who can afford to stock up food for months on end but elsewhere in the compounds, it will be a total disaster. This is the problem they’re facing in South Africa. People are coming out of homes in the name of going to buy food from selected supermarkets.”

He stated that according to Zambia’s social setup where people live hand to month, a lockdown may spread the virus aggressively.

“Where people live hand-to-mouth like our compounds, a lockdown must be the last thing anyone would wish for the majority poor. This would result in the crowds queuing up for food supplies, a situation that would have the potential to spread the virus even more aggressively,” stated Chanda.

“Either Mr. Hichilema is a political novice who is given to impulsive decisions or knows the cost and he is trying to make political capital out of it. It is disturbing that while our nation and the world come together to fight COVID- 19, Mr. Hichilema’s deviant behaviour may end up worse than the virus. We call upon all Zambians to ignore his politicking as we all come together to fight COVID-19.”