THE conduct of the Zambia Medicine Regulatory Authority in relation to the fake COVID-19 vaccine scandal involving Mr Valden Findlay’s Chrismar Earthmoving Equipment is dishonest and it should concern all of us. The statement they issued yesterday, much as it was meant to do damage control, was full of deceit. Our people deserve to know the truth on this scandal and they should not be fed with cheap PR.

This newspaper has been carrying out an investigation into the importation of the unauthorized and little known Hayat-Vax Covid-19 vaccines into the country. We established that the company involved belongs to Mr Valden Findlay, a friend to former president Edgar Lungu. Through his influence in Mr Lungu’s government, Valden extended his mischievous activities to the Ministry of Health and even went further to import Covid vaccines which were to be supplied to the Ministry. We established that this company managed to do this without authority, license or permit of any sort.

Our investigation further established that ZAMRA was aware of this development, but for some reason, they had chosen silence rather than inform the public. When we finished our investigation, we afforded ZAMRA an opportunity to comment on our findings and we asked them specific questions. ZAMRA’s first reaction was to ask us where we got the information from. They wanted to know who had leaked the fake Covid-19 vaccines scandal to News Diggers. They were not interested in informing the public about this development. It was an operation that they planned to keep away from media and the people of Zambia.

When they realized that our story was firm, they finally answered our questions, but to cover their backs, they also simultaneously issued a press statement in which they were saying they wanted to inform the public about the fake Covid-19 vaccines that they had intercepted according to their mandate. The question is; why announce now? Why were they quiet all this time? Why did they not inform the public before destroying the said vaccines? Who were they covering up for?

ZAMRA exists to protect the public, but in this case, as they did in the Honeybee scandal, their first instinct was to protect the supplier, Mr Lungu’s friend Valden Findlay. If ZAMRA’s role was truly to serve the public, they would have told the people in July that they had intercepted a fake Covid-19 vaccine consignment brought in by Mr Findlay. They would have also made sure that the public understood that this particular vaccine was very different from the vaccines that were being administered to the people. But their interest was to cover up the development.

Even the questions they asked us when we contacted them show that they have turned themselves into an institution that is well adapted to cover up wrong doing. They seemed more concerned about who had leaked their secret. ZAMRA even wanted to know when we intended to publish our story so that they could plan their damage control; and that is what their press statement last evening sought to achieve.

We wish to state that ZAMRA’s operations are dishonest and a danger to public health. We call up the new government to get to the bottom of this scandal and other scandals that are being buried at ZAMRA. Medical supplies have become a playing ground for criminals who are ready to endanger public health, and if institutions such as ZAMRA are aiding this, then they are killing our people.

Zambians deserve to know how Mr Findlay’s Earthmoving company found itself importing Covid vaccines. Who knew about this and what was their interest? What was Mr Lungu’s role in this one and the rest on the list of Findlay’s scandals?

Why are these people who are doing this to our country walking the streets freely? Look at the danger that the Honeybee scandal posed to our people. Leaky condoms were not only supplied, but they were also distributed by the Ministry of Health. They also supplied damaged, toxic drugs to our health facilities across the country. When you ask the government what punishment was meted out to the suppliers of fake condoms, the answer may be that the money was not paid, that’s all.

This is the same thing that we are seeing in this latest Covid-19 vaccine scandal. ZAMRA is proud that they intercepted the consignment and the vaccines were destroyed, but is that enough? Why can’t the people behind the so called Earthmoving Equipment company be taken to court for prosecution? Is it not a crime to import drugs without a permit? Is it not illegal to distribute drugs without a license? Come on, stop fooling our people!