FORMER Defence Minister George Mpombo has asked government to ensure that all its Coronavirus daily briefings adhere to the highest reporting standards of full disclosure for citizens to be aware of the fast-changing situation.

And Mpombo says government should also put in place social welfare measures to ensure vulnerable people have access to food and continue living during this volatile period when the country was effectively locked out.

In a statement to News Diggers!, Mpombo urged the government to avoid ‘drip, drip’ details when updating the nation about COVID-19 simply because they had been put under pressure by a “relentless and combative social media”.

“The COVID-19 ‘convolvulus’ pandemic is a defining moment for Zambia and the world at large and should be nipped into the bud quickly before it unleashes more colossal collateral damage on society. The disease remains a serious threat to all the peoples. Government, despite its sluggish and laggard reaction, should be applauded for courageous measures cobbled to contain the menacing contagion. More importantly, government should ensure a steady flow of accurate and encompassing information to the nation about the whole shebang in its updates and avoid ‘drip, drip’ details when under pressure by a relentless and combative social media,” Mpombo urged.

“The world has already set high standards in reporting cases of high profile leaders like UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau; we should not lower the bar by hiding under the ‘Shibboleths of Ethical and Professional’ reasons when dealing with our leadership; this approach could end up eroding public confidence and trust in the important updates.”

He also called for comprehensive social welfare measures that government could employ to help citizens manage their lives during the current period when economic activities had been curtailed.

“During lockdown, government should put in place social welfare measures to ensure vulnerable people have food and life essentials. Rwanda is doing this already and Nigeria just started. Government should also consider reducing electricity tariffs as people are now spending more time at home due to lockdown. Banks should be encouraged to impose moratorium on all debts, reduce interest rates and properly manage the foreign exchange imbroglio and reduce and suspend VAT (Value Added Tax),” stated Mpombo.