Like we have written in the past, the Coronavirus fight is not only for those in power. In fact, it is not a government problem. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has not been caused by bad governance or the rampant corruption, abuse of office and breakdown of the rule of law. Therefore, it cannot be blamed on the Patriotic Front or any of its leaders. Of course, there are still some delayed decisions or some ineffective measures, which are now subjecting more citizens to the risks of contracting the virus, but ultimately, the disease outbreak itself has nothing to do with government or the people running it.
It is for this reason that all well-meaning Zambians need to make a contribution to the Coronavirus fight, no matter how small it is. Even staying home and doing nothing counts as a huge contribution to this fight because the more people stay home, the slower the spread of the disease. Meanwhile, those who have must now reach out to the poor and vulnerable, who cannot afford sanitary materials, food and other basic commodities for survival. This is the time to genuinely and generously give back to the community.
But who should give or donate? What we are reading on social media is that Zambia is in a disadvantaged position because we don’t have billionaires who can make such donations. The argument has been that all big government contracts in our country are given to foreigners who have externalized their profits. While this may be true, it is not the same as saying there are no successful Zambians or rich businessmen living in this country. The malls and skyscraper office buildings that are springing up in Lusaka and the Copperbelt, for example, are owned by our very own successful Zambian businessmen and women.
Today, we are making an appeal to those fortunate sons and daughters of the soil to do more in the face of the Coronavirus outbreak. Look at it this way: when the country is ravaged by the aftermath of this vicious pandemic, there will be no economy left; there will be no viable business to run; there will be no profit to earn. It is public knowledge that government has no capacity to reach every corner of this country to help citizens in their preparedness for this outbreak.
This is why we feel elated by the gesture shown by all the companies and individuals who have made huge financial and material donations to communities, directly or through government. This is how it ought to be. The countrywide donation of materials by the UPND president Mr Hakainde Hichilema cannot pass without commendation. When we say putting politics aside to fight a common alien enemy, this is what we mean. One thing we noted from this donation was that it was not a UPND affair. This was a successful Zambian businessman putting his resources together and giving to the needy.
If Mr Hichilema wanted political mileage, he would have taken the donation to his UPND secretariat to make all the political statements before giving out the branded materials. This is what we have seen from other rich Zambians who are in politics. If they have to give mealie meal, they make sure it’s engraved with their names. But that is not a genuine donation, it’s a campaign. Mr Hichilema’s message was simply that: “This is our personal contribution of hand sanitizers, face masks and hygiene soaps and we expect every one of us to help in one way or another. The level of commitment among our citizens is commendable, but limitation in resources is hampering the realisation of the campaign. The world today is bleeding and calls for everyone’s efforts.”
Indeed, our country in particular is bleeding, and calls for the efforts of all those who have the means. Mr Hichilema is not the only successful businessman in Zambia. In fact, he is not near the top five. We also need to hear from those businessmen whose profits and networth has multiplied ten-fold in less than five years. Let them not be on the receiving end of the equation. They must give and give more.
We have retired rich tycoons in this country who have served in government for decades and have made all the money that could be made. They should not sit quietly enjoying tu wine utwalekana lekana, while watching people’s misery from TV. Let them come out and give back to the community. Those self-proclaimed billionaires who spend millions and millions on their birthday parties at plush hotels, while bragging to be stinking rich, must come out and join in giving donations.
Pastors and bishops who have made fortunes from preaching the word of God must suspend their appetites for milking their followers through offerings and tithes. There is no conduit for transmitting church proceeds to God in the sky. It’s time to give back that money to God’s children. 1 Timothy 6:10.