On the night of January 18, 2019, Transport and Communications Minister Brian Mushimba was involved in a road traffic accident where he sustained a broken arm, among other body injuries. According to the Minister, although medical staff at the University Teaching Hospital were very professional and competent, the institution failed to treat his arm without resorting to amputation. So they referred him to the Arwyp Medical Centre in South Africa where it was fixed.

Discharged after a month’s admission abroad, the minister could not help but take his joy to social media where he posted a picture with medical staff at the hospital, a move that his Twitter followers found braggadocio and provocative – as seen from their bitter reactions. With impulse, the minister expressed his displeasure by blocking those who demanded that he justifies the medical bill incurred in South Africa. But later, he realised that it was wrong to block people who demand answers from their leaders.

“After much reflection, I totally have realized my part in the storm surrounding my being discharged from hospital. I want to unreservedly apologize and open a new page on our friendship and our online interactions. I take responsibility for the events referenced,” twitted Honourable Mushimba as he responded with some questions from his followers.

We always get amused whenever we see leaders in the Patriotic Front government admit a wrong. An apology is a very expensive commodity in this regime and very few people can afford it. This is why we would like to salute Honourable Mushimba for demonstrating his good leadership attributes. Indeed, Honourable minister, when you lead people, you must never run away when questions are being asked about you. Sir, continue with this great spirit of embracing accountability.

And in this same spirit of accountability, Honourable Minister, we thought you could perhaps take us back to the night when it all happened. We have a few unanswered questions, which may help our fellow citizens appreciate what could have led to the accident. Our questions are mainly based on the information that you published from your hospital bed; regarding the activities you were involved in that night. This is what you wrote:

Brian MUSHIMBA: Guess that’s why it’s called an accident. It just creeps up on you when you least expect it; you can’t anticipate it. But I know now to listen to my wife more often. She didn’t want me to leave the house that day, that late after I had spent the whole day flying back from duty in Brazil, adding on the jet lag of having flown from USA a few days earlier.

But I had to have those two meetings because I was going to the constituency the following morning! (See how we push ourselves even beyond limits!).

It’s already late, had just finished some tasty dinner (specifically prepared since I had been away from home traveling for a month). The meeting was only to last 30mins and I convinced myself I could handle it.

So I went to meet the two colleagues to listen to their predicament and how I could be of help. Then a 30min meeting became 3hrs! My wife calls, worried that I had not rested and the meeting was taking too long. I abruptly excused myself and asked that I now go home and rest.

It’s 11pm and I’m truly feeling tired. I jump in my car and using a road I was not familiar with, found myself in that dark and sharp curve on Thabo Mbeki road.

It came up on me very fast and had limited reaction time. I saw it all happen. Scared, holding on to my rosary I keep on me, I saw the car lose control. I remember saying a short prayer. When it stopped on its side, I climbed out and flagged down a Good Samaritan to rush me to UTH. My right arm had been injured. I also gave the Good Samaritan my wife’s number to call her and advise her of the accident that had just happened. My wife met us at UTH before I went into surgery.
I’m glad my life was spared.

Our questions are as follows:
Can the minister be kind enough to tell the nation which “two colleagues” he went to meet and where he met them, without divulging any details of the “predicaments” that they wanted his help for?

Since he had been travelling for a month, why did he not invite the two colleagues to his house, considering that he had just arrived from Brazil and early morning, he needed to travel to the Constituency?

How important were these colleagues for the entire Cabinet minister to lose sleep and follow them to their comforts?

Were these colleagues sensitive individuals who were not supposed to be seen by his wife?

Since until the accident, he admittedly never used to listen to his wife “more often”, is the minister in the habit of going out in the night against his wife’s desire?

If she did not call him at 23:00 hours that night, what time was he planning on returning home to his wife?

The minister tells us that he was going out for TWO meetings with TWO different colleagues, but later he refers to the two meetings as: ‘A’ 30min meeting which was taking long, turning into 3 hours. Did the two meetings merge as one or each took three hours?

Does the minister take alcohol? If he does, did he take any that night, and did he visit any drinking spots like G-greens or places like that?

Was the minister using a government vehicle after hours? If so, was he driving himself or his official driver caused the accident? Who else was on that vehicle apart from the Honourable?

How did the car lose control; what distracted him?

As Minister in charge of enforcing road safety regulations, including adherence to speed limits, was he driving within the specified speed limit on Thabo Mbeki Road? Did his car overturn without a tyre burst, while driving at 40km/hour?

Most importantly, how can the minister say he is not familiar with Thabo Mbeki Road when this is the road that links Parliament Motel, where he must have a room as MP, and the National Assembly?

Assuming the minister honestly doesn’t know Thambo Mbeki Road, why did he chose to use it that night, knowing he was tired? Where was he driving from?

Being a good leader that he has demonstrated to be, we are very hopeful that Honourable Mushimba will find time to respond to these questions which the Zambian people are asking. We pray that he will respond honestly, while holding on to the same rosary that saved his life. Tell us, sir!