Let’s discuss health bill not Zodwa

Recently, a group of event promoters decided to invite renowned South African dancer and socialite Zodwa Wabantu for a show in Lusaka this month. What followed was a statement purportedly issued by he Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Rev Godfridah Sumaili, banning the entertainer from entering Zambia on grounds that she dances without underwear.

Ever since that news broke, the Zambian social media space has been alight with protests against government. Even when the minister has clarified that she has not banned Zodwa, apart from asking her hosts to formalise her visit, netizens are still furious and going on with their “we want Zodwa” protest.

We have no issue with the people of Zambia if they find utmost satisfaction and pleasure in debating topics like Zodwa Wabantu, sex toys and so on, at the expense of ridiculous long term government policies. We can only observe that we Zambians are a very strange people because we spend too much time talking about morality and judging those who seem to be less righteous. But we cannot condemn anyone because in a democracy people must be encouraged to exercise their freedom of speech.

Our only plea to the citizens is that as we debate Zodwa Wabantu’s underwear or lack of it; let us remember that we have a country to rescue. Let us not forget the power that we collectively wield as a people to stop the political hooliganism being perpetrated by the Patriotic Front. Zodwa’s country has succeeded to remove a corrupt president, but we still have a long way to go.
While we are enjoying our freedom to talk about Zodwa, The National Assembly is passing a repressive National Health Insurance Bill. If Zambians don’t stand up to protest against this law, the PF government will come to claim that citizens approved it. Time to act is now, not when the deductions start reflecting on payslips and other collection points.

We need to develop a proactive attitude as citizens to keep our government on its toes because once a bad policy or illegal contract has been signed, it is costlier to reverse it. Let us ask those in government why they are, all of a sudden, concerned about the health of citizens when they have failed to heal the economy? We have many Zambians who need to be fed and discharged; so before we enact the Health Insurance Bill, where is the Food Assurance Act?

We know that collecting this money will be easy, but very few will be able to claim and benefit from this fund, just like the case is with NAPSA. We also know that millions of people will continue to die because our hospitals will still lack essential medical supplies.
Previously, government pretended to care for those who did not have access to health facilities because of long distances, and they bought mobile hospitals; where have those expensive clinics gone? How many still have engines and wheels today?

If our government leaders demand evidence to prove their irresponsibility, these are the questions we must be asking them through all sorts of channels, including social media where we are posting Zodwa’s pantyless pictures.

President Lungu is saying let’s remove alignment to “chief and village” from the National Registration Cards so that we avoid the genocide that occurred in Rwanda. But have the PF and UPND political thugs been looking at each other’s NRCs before hacking one another to death? How will this measure reduce political intolerance and violence?

When we remove “Chief and Village” from Mr Lungu’s NRC, will people find it difficult to figure out the ‘mystery’ of where he comes from? Can Mr Hichilema’s tribe be concealed by removing the name of his village? Surely we must ask the President what is going on in his mind because this doesn’t sound like a normal pronouncement.

It’s not only the Health Insurance Bill and President Lungu’s bizarre genocide prevention measures that should worry citizens.

The Zambia Revenue Authority is afraid to introduce punitive taxes from multinational companies, but they can just wake up and demand withholding tax from a poor unemployed landlord whose inherited house has been a source of kapenta. Which nation on earth ever succeeded to create wealth by overtaxing its citizens?

This law will not affect landlords alone; when ZRA knocks on their door, they will be knocking on their tenant’s door to pass on the obligation. Let’s ask Mr Zacchaeus, who is in charge of ZRA, why he wants to tax Zambians to the grave. What makes him think he can sit in a bucket and lift himself up?

In fact, we must also ask ZRA what capacity they have to enforce this obligation? Will this law apply only to urban settlers who live in mansions or they will visit compound by compound, village by village to see who owns a mud house and who is renting? We ask because not even the Ministry of Lands has an accurate database of tenants and landlords.

That’s not all the issues there are to debate. Chieftainess Nkomeshya and her subjects are crying because government has imposed a decision to build a nuclear plant in Chongwe. They have staged demonstrations against the move. But they are on their own, the rest of Zambia is protesting against government’s decision to ban Zodwa Wabantu.

Well, like we stated, freedom of expression is guaranteed in our Constitution, but even when she comes, Zodwa will not stop the soldiers from exercising military rule in the Lusaka Central Business District. We need to use social media to mount pressure on our leaders when they go astray.

They can claim that social media is here to destroy the country, but the opposite is the truth. The most accurate thermometer our government uses to gauge the citizens’ temper is social media. When the Inspector General recruited Chinese in the Zambia Police Service, it is social media that forced government to reverse the illegality.

Let us wake up fellow Zambians and fight the right battles. Zodwa will give us a few minutes of pleasure and we will remain with the sad reality of our depressing national state of affairs.

         

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