IN THE latest episode of the PF government’s theft series, we have learnt that the uniformed men and women who are sworn to prevent crimes are the chief perpetrators of the vice. We have learnt that instead of arresting criminals, our high ranking law enforcement officers are colluding to stage daylight robbery of medicines.

Interestingly, we have not heard or seen any statement from madam Esther Mwaata Katongo. If a constable or sergeant was the culprit, we are sure that the police command would have given all the details to the media by now. But since the ranks of the criminals involved in the latest scandal are too big, it is being treated like nothing has happened. It has become necessary to keep quiet.

We are not surprised. By nature, criminals are very defensive. They try to portray a very innocent public image but what they do in the cover of night is devastating to the very society they pretend to serve. The character of the people who are in charge of protecting lives and providing us with good health in this country is disheartening. Like we have repeatedly said before, there is a looting competition in this government.

We are being ruled by criminals, hard core criminals. What more can one say when the police are making such headlines? We wonder what the mission statement for the Zambia Police is. Maybe the motto is: Don’t Steal, We Have Already Stolen.

What is more painful is that what these people are stealing are not just ordinary drugs like contraceptives or deworming pills, which you would understand if these criminals in government said they had run out of supplies in their houses. What they have been stealing are essential life-saving drugs like ARVs, malaria and HIV test kits. How heartless do you have to be to steal medicine from a dying patient?

This is not just stealing. When a person takes something that belongs to somebody else without permission, that is stealing. The stolen object can be as small as a piece of candy or as big as a car. Either way, it’s stealing, and it’s bad. But stealing medicine meant for a dying patient in a hospital bed is something else that we can only define as evil. You must have a very strange conscience to steal essential drugs from those that are in need.

It is not long ago when our patients in hospitals were faced with the agony of taking toxic and damaged drugs supplied to the government by an unqualified supplier. These people don’t care about the sanctity of life, they don’t care what they have to do to make money. What kind of country shall we remain with when such scandals become the norm?

Our people must be reminded that the theft of drugs at Medical Stores is not new. This has been happening for many years, and every time a scandal is exposed, our government officials go in overdrive to conceal the magnitude of the crime, instead of weeding out the criminals. Two years ago, over US$1 million was stolen from Medical Stores in form of ARVs, HIV test kits, malaria and other drugs

When we reported that US$1 million worth of drugs and HIV test kits were stolen from Medical Stores Limited, the Minister of Health responded that it was not “breaking news”. In May 2018, the Global Fund ordered the Zambian government to refund US$1,064,788 which was stolen, and again our Health Minister confidently told the nation that government was going to pay back the US$1 for the stolen medical supplies, as if that money was going to come from his pocket.

Our Minister of Health assured the nation that his ministry had put in place tight controls to prevent drug pilferage at Medical Stores. Interestingly, it was the police who moved in to arrest the poor employees at the facility. Today, we are learning that the Police Command that was entrusted with the safety of drugs at Medical Stores is now at the centre of the cartel.

The theft under this leadership cannot come to an end because State House has been tolerating criminal elements to stay in top government positions. This is why people who work for this government don’t have any fear because they have learnt that there are no consequences for stealing.

It is very important to note that no one broke into Medical Stores to steal. Those medicines were stolen by the police officers and high ranking government officials who have high level access clearance, in collusion with warehouse staff at Medical Stores. That is why they have been able, over the years, to manipulate the system to reflect the existence of drugs which they had, in fact, already stolen.

Something is awfully wrong with our moral fabric as human beings if we can get to this extent of damage without feeling any pain. Sadly, theft is no longer breaking news under the PF administration, as Dr Chilufya once put it. It’s a common, everyday activity, so the people of Zambia shouldn’t be alarmed when they hear about tomorrow’s scandal. We just feel sorry for our readers because every day that they read such news, they get scandal fatigued.