KEEMBE UPND member of parliament Princess Kasune says it is sad that government, through Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo, rushed to harass citizens who were not complying with the masking up directive without allowing a grace period.

Commenting on Lusambo’s decision to chase passengers without masks from public buses, Kasune said although the action to monitor the situation was justifiable, there was need for more sensitization to all parts of the country on the need to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“I think that when you protect life, you are protecting human rights. That is my take. It is a catch 22 situation because we cannot use human rights when you are putting other people in danger, that is infringing on human rights. However, I think that Honourable Lusambo should ensure that people are sensitized. I don’t think people can fail to put on chitenge material masks. What I do not agree with is that people have not been sensitized and then you take them out of mini-buses they have boarded or whatever transport. Whatever circumstance, given the vastness of this country…I can tell you right now, I am going to my constituency in the midst of all this to try and, not only donate some masks, but to also [sensitize them to] and go and make their own because you can do it even with your chitenges. But to go just from pronouncing suddenly and enforce in a way that may infringe on people’s well-being? I think that is where the challenge is,” Kasune said.

“My call to Bowman and the government of the day is to ensure that people are assisted. We are more of making pronouncements… are we seeing any relief in terms of tax payment in Zambia? No! Have we seen any donations that are given to trickle down to constituencies? Even to our policemen; to our nurses and professionals, even in the rural areas, the answer is no! Even as much of the activities are in Lusaka I think the little money that we have, the money that has been donated…even members of parliament they may not even come to wherever you are, Ministry of Health can slot times each MP can go and get little resources, whether they are sanitizers or soaps, you give them let them go out there and give.”

She said it was unfortunate that Lusambo had resorted to politicising the health crisis.

“I think we are politicking too much on this issue, that shouldn’t be the issue! That shouldn’t be the case. If Honourable Lusambo was to do this a week from now after you have put in proper dissemination of information through the radios, through local languages, through mobile vehicles going around in every part of Zambia. We have health officers, have we given them money? Have we empowered them with fuel to go around? These arms approach where you just go say something, where you are comfortable, you have the capacity, is not correct! The action itself of policing is okay, it is the timing. And have you put measures in place? Have you empowered the people? Have you helped the bus drivers to wear those masks? Have you given the grace period?” asked Kasune.

“So, in as much I am for the idea that at some point we have to enforce these measures of wearing masks, we can’t use brutal force; we can’t just…after enforcing and we expect these things to be enforced. The ordinary Zambians are the ones that are going to suffer; give them a grace period. We need to ensure that the message goes around, not everybody has a radio; not everyone has the money to do that.”