PF member of the central committee Kebby Mbewe says it is irresponsible for the rich and educated individuals in the country to call for a lockdown just because of the few reported cases of people that tested positive for COVID-19.
Mbewe said the PF can never be an irresponsible government to ignore the poor and give in to demands for lockdown by the rich when it understands well that there will still be life even after the coronavirus pandemic.
“So it is irresponsible for the rich and educated individuals in the country to call for a lockdown, very irresponsible because they are not looking at the lives of other people. Lockdown for now is a non-starter because President Edgar Lungu can never betray the poor people that voted PF into power,” he said. “So if as a country we are to do any lockdown, it will be for these rich people because they are the ones that are transmitting this disease and are the ones found with people that boarded planes and not poor people from compounds who survive on hand-to-mouth basis.”
Mbewe said those calling for a lockdown must know that it was not only COVID-19 that can kill people but even hunger in an event that citizens were denied access to food due to the effect of a state of emergency.
He said there was need for people to critically analyse and balance up both the disadvantages and advantages of a lockdown on the economy and its impact on poor citizens.
“We have to weigh in, which one one is more critical – that is what we need to look at. Yes, life is critical but can’t we survive this disease if we don’t lockdown this country? Have we lost a life? So why are we rushing to lockdown? Do we even understand what locking down is? Do we even know the consequences of locking down the economy?” Mbewe asked.
“Do we know? Do we have a plan on how we are going to sustain the common man during a lockdown? Do we? Do we have a second plan on how our people will be sustained when COVID-19 is gone and now we need them back on the streets for them to survive? Do we have a plan? So it’s not a question of opposition political parties to demand a lock down. Our people will die, Hakainde Hichilema and his fellow group of the elite calling for a lockdown have money to lock themselves down. If it is for HH, he is able to lockdown himself in his house even for 10 years but our people have no capacity to lockdown not even for two hours because they survive on hand-to-mouth.”
Mbewe challenged those behind calls for the country to lockdown to understand that not everybody was capable to cope with the effects of such an action.
He said majority citizens survived by selling in markets.
“The opposition has no love for this country. If they loved this country they would have not been calling for lockdown but they would have been saying can we balance up, can we sensitize our people, can we buy products that are going to stop the spreading of the disease,” Mbewe said.
“Can we close the bars, actually just the same closure of bars has brought a crisis! Just a bar people are crying and complaining. Even the hospitality industry, no one has closed but people are not coming and that is already some crisis. So if we are going to talk about everyone to lockdown, how many Zambians can stock food, even a teacher and nurse can’t stock food for three weeks. They can’t sustain, so let’s not imitate what America, China and South Africa has done because as a country we do not have the capacity to effect a lockdown. Let’s just struggle within our means, within ourselves by preventing this disease from spreading.
“The power is in us. The power is not in the disease but in the way we move around. Our people need to survive but how will they survive if we get the little that they are surviving on? All what I’m asking from Zambian people is that can we quarantine ourselves, can we follow the rules so that this disease does not spread. The power to end it is within us based on how we conduct ourselves and not in the disease.”
He said it would be unfair to punish the poor when the disease was brought in the country by the elite who can afford to board planes.
“It is the same rich people, those who jump on a plane, who are the owners of this disease. In fact, they are the ones who should lockdown. If anything government should consider locking down these rich people because they are the ones transmitting this disease and are ones found with people that disembarked from planes hence compounds should be left free,” said Mbewe.
“Nobody from compounds had gone to board a plane to go and get that disease. And surprisingly, it is these same rich and elite people who have food to eat calling for a lockdown. The rich know they are able to lockdown, they have paid DSTV, they will lock themselves and watch so we are saying lock down for now is a non-starter.”