WE watched President Edgar Lungu’s national address with a strong sense of solicitude. Many things didn’t appear right. While declaring war on the COVID-19 pandemic, our President appeared to be in a state of defeat already; not only from the Coronavirus, but from other things as well. He did not sound like a General in good shape to inspire hope in his troops on the battle front, he appeared weak and fragile. We felt very bad, our Head of State was not his usual self. After his speech, we understood why the President had been keeping away from national television and withdrawn from the public lately.

Whatever is going on is for the appropriate authorities to take care of and hopefully update the nation at an appropriate time. We thank him for making the effort to meet people’s demands under visibly strenuous circumstances. In fact, the message we got from President Lungu’s address is a desperate call of help. We saw it in his eyes, his body language and tone of voice that he was raising a white flag. He was sending a message that we are at war with a vicious alien. He was signalling for truce and ceasefire among friendly forces within the country so that we can all unite against a common enemy.

Dear readers, countrymen and women, here is the message: the Coronavirus disease is real and it is coming for every single one of us. This is no time to start pointing fingers at the Patriotic Front or President Lungu. If there is one thing that should unite Zambians now more than ever before, it is this disease. Zambia’s existence is under threat. Our country doesn’t have near the capacity needed to fight this virus. COVID-19 is no longer lurking around, it is here, living among us.

We need, all of us, to stand up and help the President and his government. Unfortunately, the pandemic has hit us at a time when our economy in already in turmoil. We need the brains of this country, at home and abroad, to converge, reach out to the President and offer solutions. No single genius has the ability to find solutions for what awaits us in the next few weeks, months. It is time to stand and fight for the survival of our country as a united force. World super powers are crumbling out there, the so-called ‘great nations’ have failed to contain the spread of this devastating virus.

It is time for Zambian citizens to take individual preventive measures. Every contribution will go a long way to slow down the spread of this disease. Don’t wait for tomorrow, act now! Don’t just post memes and jokes about the pandemic, while ignoring the health guidelines that have been issued. People will die! We will perish if we take this lightly. Unfortunately, for Zambia, things don’t appear to be in order within the Executive. Zambia is in a bad place right now because it is very evident that we are also battling a leadership deficiency.

If everything was okay, our President would have called for a meeting with all the key players; heads of the financial sector, basic needs distributors and retailers, pharmaceutical companies, transport operators, food producers and suppliers, not to mention health experts, including those in the private sector as well as tourism operators, to constitute a high-powered public/private committee to come up with recommendations and also a high-powered committee to oversee and monitor the situation.

This is not a fight for President Lungu and his Cabinet, or the so-called ministerial committee. What do they know? It is common knowledge that a good number of President Lungu’s Cabinet members are as ignorant as a common person. They have no special skills relevant to the prevailing threat. In other words, they are in power, but rather hopeless and useless.

We need brains that can generate rescue plans. Hospitals will soon run out of space, if this was not already the case even before the virus hit home soil. Has the government talked to hotel owners to discuss how their facilities could be turned into emergency treatment centres? We all know the problem here, but what is the solution?

The Minister of Health has told members of the public that government has designated an isolation centre in Chilanga, Lusaka. What about those who get exposed from Kasumbalesa border? Where will they be quarantined? What about those who get infected from Kazungula border? How will they be transported to Chilanga?

We believe that the President ordered a suspension of all international flights at three other international airports because there is a concern about screening effectiveness at these facilities, so where does this leave the numerous other border points around the country? We are in trouble and we need critical decisions to be made now, today!

We have heard the President express concern that closing the borders would render us even more vulnerable because, as a landlocked country, we are dependent on imports. That’s correct, but we are not dependent on human imports, we survive by imported goods. In this case, the right thing to do is to shut down human traffic at all borders, including airports and leaving a free flow of cargo traffic. This will significantly reduce the spread of the virus on our homeland. We expect our economic advisors at State House to be sharing such ideas with the President. But like we stated, we seem to have a leadership deficiency in the midst of this crisis.

This is why we are calling on all well-meaning citizens to make individual contributions to stop this disease. The good news is that no Zambian is accusing another of causing this problem. We are all in agreement that the enemy here is an alien. This should unite us. Please make a difference, even by choosing to stay home during this period, if you can. We are at war!

‘Corona’ is at the mall near you, it’s at your church, at school, in your street, at your favourite restaurant. Don’t be brave; if you go to a gun fight armed with a spray, you will die! Retreat!