DISASTER Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) national coordinator Chanda Kabwe says there is need to pray for some political leaders in Southern Province who are telling their electorates that COVID-19 is a hoax.

Speaking to journalists during a media briefing in Lusaka, Friday, Kabwe said he did not understand what was wrong with “that province”.

“The biggest challenge, for example in Southern Province that I found, I don’t know why that province is always a challenge in governance. They are telling people that there is no COVID! I was shocked to discover in Mazabuka and part of Choma, including some of the radio stations, they are sending these messages ‘that there is no COVID,’ ‘it’s a way that PF wants to steal money.’ I don’t know what is wrong with this province!” Kabwe lamented.

“I don’t really understand and I wish that the Minister of National Guidance (Rev Godfridah Sumaili) during the prayer and fasting in October, I think we need to focus more because some of these people, who are saying some of them are very learned members of parliaments, who are sending such information and discouraging learners from wearing masks. We must pray for some of the leaders in that province so that God helps us.”

And Kabwe said production of masks had been ramped up across the country.

“The time that his Excellency gave a directive that schools be opened on the 1st of June, we worked very closely with our colleagues from the Ministry of General Education, who gave us the statistics – province by province, district by district, and that we view the total numbers of learners in classes. That is why government moved quickly to find partners, such as Mulungushi Textiles, correctional facilities, the market associations. We went a step further to ensure that each and every learner could have two-to-three masks and government moved to provide four million of the masks. We worked very hard and we went to tour all provinces to ensure that preparation is done; I am coming from Southern Province, I have been in Southern Province for the past three days to just make sure things are happening in Southern Province,” Kabwe said.

“Based on the information that we received from (the) General Education (Ministry) and the requirements for each province, for example Lusaka Province; as a province, they require 300,000 masks and out of the 300,000 masks, we have done 85 per cent of the total requirement. In Southern Province, that requires 215,000 we are 65 per cent of production within Southern Province. What has government done? We have increased the capacity of production by engaging a correctional service in Livingstone and they are producing 1,500 masks in a day. In Mulungushi Textiles in Kabwe, we have increased the number from 3,000 per day to 6,000 masks per day. Correctional services, again, we have moved 2,000 to 3,000 per day; Unit Garment of Ndola from 5,000 to 10,000 masks per day and then we have the market associations.”

He said DMMU had moved to bring production of masks to individual districts to ensure quick distribution in rural areas.

“We have brought down to the district-level; we realize that it will be very costly for us, as government, to transport masks from here to Shang’ombo, while within Shang’ombo we have tailors within; in Vubwi, in Kaputa we have tailors so the authority was given through ZPPA to allow our district officers to procure at district-level. Then, we transfer the funds for the marketeers; whoever is a tailor would be paid as part of local empowerment at district-level. So, we have done very well in terms of the provision of these masks,” said Kabwe.