MAZABUKA Central UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo says it is the highest level of irresponsibility for President Edgar Lungu to allow a multitude of PF cadres to witness the commissioning of an “outdated bridge”.

On Tuesday, President Lungu’s Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations Isaac Chipampe said it was impossible to stop people from seeing the Head of State amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Nkombo said that President Lungu was on the campaign trail and did not care about the well-being of citizens, as evidenced by the huge multitude of PF cadres who witnessed the commissioning of the Makeni overpass, Monday.

“PF are behaving like they are in a one-party State where they disregard their own laws that they make. The Statutory Instrument or the Executive order to do with COVID-19 was signed by Honourable Dr Chitalu Chilufya (Health Minister) and was agreed by the entire Cabinet. They should have said: ‘this is the SI for the opposition only and not for the country.’ Parliament closed because of COVID-19 related deaths of not only staff members, but also members of parliament and we had to shut down abruptly because of that. President Lungu was not alone down there, he was with his Cabinet. Obviously, we did test for COVID and a few of us were found to be okay and others were found to be positive so Parliament itself was a breeding ground for COVID-19, which means it does not have a selection mechanism where it says: ‘these are PF, these are opposition’,” Nkombo said.

“The act of President Lungu allowing that situation whatever Mr (Isaac) Chipampe said was an act of highest level of irresponsibility coming from a Head of State. People are dying! President Lungu and his entire Cabinet are very insensitive to people’s well-being. If we start recording a high rise [of COVID-19 cases] in Lusaka, President Lungu and his team must take the blame. It is clear that President Lungu is on a campaign trail for now that is all that matters.”

And Nkombo wondered why some stakeholders celebrated the commissioning of an “outdated overpass.”

“Those people did not walk on their own; there were buses from Chawama, from Kanyama, from all over to launch an old fashioned, outdated bridge! A concrete jungle nothing to be proud about! Today, bridges are made with pillars. Go and see the Nelson Mandela bridge; go into Rwanda and see the bridges that have interconnections. Now here we are celebrating failure! And don’t forget that, that old fashioned bridge from the 19th century was not one that you would call hard work of PF…they borrowed money from the Indian government. And those people who were dancing ‘dununa reverse’ they don’t even know they are suffering because that money was not in the budget . Almost 50 per cent is going to loan repayment and people are dancing,” said Nkombo.

On Tuesday, Chipampe defended the Head of State’s movement to the showpiece event amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, arguing that President Lungu was serious about the fight against the deadly virus.

“The President is serious about COVID-19. The President was invited to that function and it was a public function as you know. So it was almost impossible to stop people from coming to see the President, they wanted to see him. It was a public function, it was not in Nakatindi Hall or in some hotel it was outside. So how are you going to stop people from coming to that function? The President was invited so if you want details about the organisations ask the Ministry of Local government that was their function. You can’t expect the President to stop people from coming to that function,” said Chipampe.