VETERAN politician Vernon Mwaanga says it is sad that a number of privileged politicians are using their ill-gotten wealth to mock citizens by giving them cash handouts and food.

And Mwaanga says people have dropped their guard against COVID-19 at a critical time when the pandemic fatigue sets in everywhere.

In a statement, Sunday, Mwaanga observed that many government officials did not seem to take people’s hardships seriously.

“It is clear that our people are going through very hard times. Many Leaders in government don’t seem to take these hardships seriously. A number of them are in privileged positions, where they have suddenly made a lot of money from somewhere and using this ill-gotten wealth, to mock the citizens by giving them food handouts and some cash. Before we have another wave in Zambia, I would like to see our government intensify the public safety awareness campaigns and urge people not to let their guard down and continue to observe the guidelines being issued by our health professionals from time to time . COVID 19 is deadly and does not discriminate between rich and poor, young and old, men and women or status. We are in it together and we must survive together,” Mwaanga stated.

And Mwaanga stated that countries should now start finding ways of how the world’s poorest countries can start accessing the COVID-19 vaccines.

“The year 2020, has been a very difficult year for all countries of the world because of the Coronavirus pandemic, which has afflicted the whole world and led to the death of hundreds of thousands of our world citizens on all the Continents. It was sudden, unknown and vicious. Scientists around the world were faced with the great challenge of finding a vaccine or vaccines to slow down the spread of the virus and to cure the victims of COVID 19. The world scientists from mainly the USA, United Kingdom, Europe, Russia, China etc, must be commended for coming up with several vaccines with an efficacy ranging from 90% to 95%. Now, we have to deal with how these vaccines will be accessed, particularly by the world’s poorest countries and how soon,” Mwaanga stated.

He regretted that many Zambians still didn’t understand the importance of following health guidelines.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) came up with basic hygiene guidelines, to help world citizens slow down the spread of the pandemic. Countries and citizens of the world responded to these guidelines in different ways, such as wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands with soap, sanitising and avoiding large gatherings among others. Regrettably, many people in Zambia don’t understand the importance of these measures and some don’t even accept that there is a Killer disease in our midst, called Coronavirus at all. The African has largely been spared of the spread of this virus and the total number of infections on our Continent recently reached 2 million,” Mwaanga stated.

“Africa’s fragile health services would not have been able to cope with the wave. Our people have dropped their guard at a critical time, as COVID 19 fatigue sets in everywhere. One just has to visit markets in Olympia, Kabwata, Luburma,Soweto, Chilenje, Matero etc, to see what I am talking about. Some countries in Europe and the Americas, are now facing second and third spikes, which are claiming thousands of lives and putting thousands of others into hospitals, which are already seriously overstretched.”

Mwaanga stated that the pandemic had caused so many devastating effects making it difficult for people to access basic needs.

“The pandemic has devastated the world in more ways than one. Airlines, Hotels, lodges, Car hire companies, Tourism Industry, Corporations, etc have gone bankrupt. Millions of people are out of work and facing an uncertain future. The kwacha -dollar exchange rate has gone beserk. Inflation is galloping, making it impossible for a great majority of our people to afford basic things of livelihood. Economies of many countries are on their knees – especially those that are grossly mismanaged. The IMF GDP growth projections for Sub-Saharan Africa in 2021, are less than cheerful, especially for countries like Zambia,” stated Mwaanga.