RAINBOW Party leader Wynter Kabimba says he is living with a sense of trepidation about the COVID-19 pandemic because there is no hope coming from leaders.

And Kabimba says if the Patriotic Front continue using the COVID-19 pandemic to campaign, there will soon be a catastrophe and they will have no one to vote for them in 2021.

In an interview, Kabimba lamented that there was no demonstrated leadership during such a crisis in Zambia.

“You see, it is in a crisis (when you see who a leader is), when everything is okay, anybody can be a leader. It is when you have a crisis that leadership becomes something that can give hope to the people and we see this even in the Bible, we see this even in history that when there was an outbreak of the First World War or the Second World War, that is when we saw who the real leaders were. That is when you know a leader, not when there is peace,” Kabimba said.

He said he was living in fear because he did not believe he could survive if he contracted COVID-19, given the measures which government had put in place.

“So what I see during briefings, I can also do that, I just need somebody to write down how many people have died, I can also do it. Even a minibus driver can do it, you just give him a piece of paper. There is no hope that I see and for me as a citizen, I need to be given hope by those that are in the leadership. I don’t see that hope coming in my way today. In fact, if anything, I am scared. I am frightened. I don’t even feel that I am safe. I don’t even feel that if I contracted coronavirus today, I would survive. So I am living with this sense of trepidation about the pandemic vis a vis the measures that are being announced or that have been announced so far that is my view,” Kabimba said.

He urged the private sector to help government set up testing centres in all parts of the country instead of donating soap, which was already in abundance.

“I was surprised myself to learn that three months after the outbreak of this pandemic, that is when they have opened a testing centre on the Copperbelt, meaning even the statistics that we are being given regarding infections may not be correct because the percentage of people that is submitting to these calls is very small comparing to the population that is left out…I think I was watching one program that when this pandemic breaks out on a larger scale in Africa, it will be catastrophe. So we are being given false hopes that we have 119 cases as at yesterday, I don’t think that is true. I think we have three, four, five times that number because of the limitations we have in testing regime. People are still crowded in buses between Copperbelt and Lusaka, and Lusaka to other districts. People are crowding on buses within cities and between cities. People are still crowding in markets, now all these are potential flash points for human to human contact and if you can have United States health structure fail to manage this pandemic, and bring it under control, I don’t know what would happen to Zambia,” he said.

“So the donations which are coming through, tu mi gomo utu twa chitechi (these buckets of donations) are not…I know when you are a beggar, you can’t choose but even the private sector must be focusing on saying to government that ‘tell us what you want us to help you with in in terms of opening centres in every major town so that there is a testing centre in Livingstone, there is a testing centre in Choma even more testing centres in Lusaka and especially the line along the rail. We have enough bars of soap around and enough disinfectant around but what about testing centres?”

Kabimba said government did not seem to be addressing the other adverse effects COVID-19 would have on the economy.

“And lastly, that this thing will bring an economy which is around on its knees to a complete lockdown. Poverty levels which are around as high as anybody can imagine will escalate. Crime will escalate. Many more people will die, food will be in short supply. So there are a lot of ramifications to this and the government, in addressing these issues must be dealing with ramifications. Nobody is addressing the issue that the fact that this pandemic is affecting food production for example, nobody is addressing the issue of the pandemic is affecting trade, sale of goods between people for them to earn a living. And surely, we can learn from other countries where statistics are made available in a much more transparent manner,” he said.

“If you have 22 million people, and I am sure they must be more now in the United States that have registered for unemployment benefit, all the gains in employment made by United States over the years have been wiped out in one week. We can learn from those countries that this thing is a danger not only to the health of human beings but even to the economy and the two are interrelated. But we are told that there was a special Cabinet meeting and all the Cabinet Ministers, the best brains to govern our country, what they came up with was to open up of churches, golf and tennis, then you get shocked.”

And Kabimba warned that if PF continued concentrating on campaigns, there would soon be a catastrophe.

“There must be a divide between politics and life. I see very clearly that the PF have taken advantage of this not in terms of serving the lives but in terms of winning the 2021 elections. And they are using this pandemic as a campaign platform so when you hear them going out even just to distribute some buckets which have been donated by somebody, they have to sing Edgar’s name. I don’t know if that is what the people want to hear because if you are not careful, you will have a calamity in the country that you won’t even have anybody voting for you in 2021,” said Kabimba.

“So let them stop playing to the gallery and do the correct thing and save the lives of Zambians. After the lives of Zambians have been saved, the Zambians themselves in 2021 will decide whom they want to vote for.”