Poor Zambians are on their own: we have no government for poor Zambians!- Azwell Banda

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Azwell Banda

Poor Zambians are on their own: we have no government for poor Zambians!

By Azwell Banda,

There is something chillingly sadistic and particularly cruel about the president of any extremely hungry and poor country, in debt default, and now cholera infested among other disease epidemics, who takes a two-week festive holiday. The narcissistic sociopath malaise becomes even worse when such a president actually chooses to use his private holiday to parade before cameras his dubiously acquired wealth, to his hungry and extremely impoverished citizens. Pathologically, this president portrayed himself as a saviour to his hungry and impoverished citizens, in order to win elections. In government, he insults their hunger and poverty, and mocks them with his wealth. This is Hakainde Hichilema.

By October last year, it was very clear Zambia was headed for a torrid time with a possible massive cholera epidemic, when the rains would fall. By mid-December 2023, the cholera epidemic was full blown. And yet the President of Zambia, Hakainde Hichilema, went to his rural origins for his two-week festive holiday, to gloat over his farms, leaving the country to fend for itself, as cholera and several other disease epidemics exploded. There can be no greater proof that Hakainde Hichilema is not the President of the millions of poor Zambians, who are the majority in Zambia, who voted him into office than that he chooses to go on holiday, in Zambia, when poor Zambians are confronting a deadly cholera epidemic.

It is now very clear that the government of Hakainde Hichilema has deliberately minimised the actual size of the cholera epidemic to allow their President to enjoy his holidays on his farms, undisturbed. This fact is also confirmed by the absence of any urgent, emergency oriented, coherent, systematic government wide response to the ongoing deadly cholera epidemic. Apart from removing infected poor Zambians from their communities and dumping them in Heroes Stadium, weak announcements about government health workers being recalled from leave, and a raft of other equally incoherent and disjointed responses, the government of Hakainde Hichilema would rather have poor Zambians leave urban slums and run back to their villages, to avoid cholera.

Hakainde Hichilema lied to poor Zambians and promised them jobs, access to economic opportunities including in the mining sector, easy and cheap finance to start businesses, clean and safe water, cheap paraffin, petrol, diesel, transport, rent, decent houses, cheap mealie meal and many other similar things essential and necessary to eliminate our national poverty and therefore end cholera epidemics. Halfway through his only term in office, Hichilema goes on holidays on his rich farms, leaving dying poor Zambians to fend for themselves as cholera, the ultimate disease of poverty, kills them.

Clean and safe water, modern sanitation, affordable and decent housing, highest standards of private and public hygiene, available and affordable high quality and nutritious food, quality social amenities, modern transportation, accessible and affordable quality modern health services, highest quality education fit for the 4th Industrial Revolution powered by AI are all by-products of a nation fully employed and at work to develop and grow its economy and society. They are the foundations of a nation free from poverty diseases such as cholera, tuberculosis, typhoid, dysentery, armyworms, anthrax, syphilis, gonorrhoea, chancroids, stomach ulcers, adult and child malnutrition and child stunting.

There is something tragically comical about UPND government Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo: halfway through the only term of office of the UPND government none of the fundamental crises in our public health sector have been resolved, let alone a foundation laid to resolve them. Chronic drugs and medical health supplies persist, throughout the country. Corruption and pilfering of drugs and medical supplies are endemic. Dilapidation and decay of public health infrastructure, especially in our poorer provinces and rural areas persist. Supply of substandard drugs persists. Significantly, by her own admission, chronic understaffing still haunts our public health system.

Confronted with a cholera pandemic which was long in the making, the most our drama queen Sylvia Masebo could do is throw her hands in the air and invite poor urban dwellers at risk of contracting cholera to return to their villages, completely oblivious of the fact that 60 years of independence may have produced thoroughly urbanised Zambians who do not identify with any village, especially in Lusaka. Masebo further undermines government statistics which record that 8 out of every 10 rural dwellers in Zambia are poor, cholera being a disease of poverty, anyone in any of our urban areas running to a village simply jumps from the proverbial pot into the fire!

Coldly, cynically and loving the public display of government authority, Hichilema’s Minister of Local Government Gary Nkombo has announced that government will halt activities likely to spread cholera, including by police arresting both vendors and people buying from streets in the Central Business District especially during evening hours. This nut-head of a minister acts as if he is not aware that more than 97 per cent of Zambia’s economy is informal, and stopping the spread of cholera must not kill people with hunger, especially those who survive on street vending. Not a whisper about any relief for lost livelihoods as government bans street vending, from Garry Nkombo. Hunger weakens immune systems, fast-tracking both the spread of, and deaths, from cholera.

Not to be outdone, Situmbeko Musokotwane, Hichilema’s Minister of Finance has announced that Zambians in rural areas are better off than those in town because they are not that affected by removal of subsidies from fuels, and, because they largely eat foods they themselves prepare, they are not so affected by the general escalating cost of living! Rural dwellers in Zambia now have no worries about school fees, their major financial burden, as far as Musokotwane is concerned. Like Masebo, Musokotwane is cynically “normalising” the 80 per cent rural poverty rate in Zambia! Situmbeko Musokotwane best epitomises the cold, calculating and extremely selfish neoliberal finance minister of a hungry and impoverished country. He even suggests that as the majority of Zambians actually live-in rural areas, things in Zambia are not that bad, as these Zambians in rural areas are not so affected by the price movements in the country.

Mutale Nalumango, Vice-President of the UPND government, a person who is responsible for disaster management in Zambia, is torn between accepting the most obvious fact: we have a developing and growing massive cholera epidemic cooked up by the UPND government because all its economic policies have worsened hunger, unemployment and poverty in Zambia – we now have two million Zambians suffering acute hunger every day – and deflecting attention to those who have died from cholera, and young men.

Coldly, moronically, Mutale Nalumango says most cholera deaths are BIDs (Brought In Dead) – people who are dead elsewhere and not in a healthy facility. Others die because they arrive at clinics and hospitals too late, when they are very ill. And, most tellingly, Mutale Nalumango is accusing young males of carelessly contracting cholera: “It has been established that it is more of the younger men that are being affected and I am disappointed with the young men. What is happening? You have heard there is cholera, how can you continuously contract it,” News Diggers has faithfully quoted Nalumango as saying.

Nalumango is pretending she does not know our male patriarchal system, our massive youth unemployment, and the poverty which reduces young male Zambians to be high-risk takers, such as those who perished in the Senseli Mine disaster. Would she also argue that young males are careless for working in dangerous mine dumps? A vice-president of a hungry impoverished country with massive youth unemployment would be very circumspect, before attacking any cohort of youths, for being too exposed to a deadly disease of poverty.

It is of course Hakainde Hichilema who tops this band of cabinet ministers who are government misfits in a country in which the majority who elected them are hungry, unemployed, poor and suffer extreme inequalities. Hichilema tops the insane behaviour: he goes on Christmas and New Year holidays during a cholera epidemic, knowing full well the epidemic would explode exponentially as the increase in rains soak up the faeces saturated soils and uncollected waste, and drain into shallow water wells. He then parades his farm wealth publicly, in the midst of historic massive hunger caused by his reckless policy of opening untaxed maize exports and inept, corrupt and chaotic handling of the government farmer support programme. He “cuts short” his holidays so that this could be the “news”, rather than the historic explosive deadly cholera epidemic he has fermented.

All selfish capitalist governments of the rich hate the working class and the rural poor. They look down upon them as costs, parasites, lazy, unthinking, dependent, and without initiative and fit only to be exploited and abused, by the rich. But at least most such governments mask this hatred through nice sounding and politically correct phrases and behaviour. Hichilema and his UPND government openly attack the Zambian working class and the rural poor for being poor: they freely and frequently ridicule them, and mock them, at every possible turn. And yet it was these poor Zambian masses who elected the UPND and Hichilema into government as they lied to them and falsely promised they would wipe out mass poverty, the source of all our diseases of poverty including cholera.

Today, the UPND are busy consolidating their foreign master’s economic dominance in Zambia as they themselves become richer. They used the poor masses of Zambia to win elections. They are running a government for the rich only. Hichilema and the UPND are mocking and laughing at the poor masses of Zambia, every day. Poor Zambians are on their own; they elected a government which never had any interest in tackling their problems: we have a government in Zambia for the rich. The poor must take back their government, from the UPND, or continue to perish from poverty!

Send comments to: banda.azwell@gmail.com

2 COMMENTS

  1. Mr. Azwell Banda, maybe you are also a Doctor, I have never seen you smiling ever since I started seeing your pictures, do you ever smile or laugh I wonder? Laughing is good for your own health, even when you hate someone, you should give yourself time to smile for the sake of your health. You are talking of poor Zambians, yes poor Zambians are the ones who voted for HH, he won and was sworn in and is the one running the country with his government. How can you say that poor Zambians are on their own, we have no government for poor Zambians? Do you know that those statements are serious? Do you have any proof? Are you the spokesperson for the poor people? When did they elect you? If the law visits you, you are the same person who will cry shrinking democratic space, your claims are baseless and unfounded. Zambia has been independent for the past 59 years and this year, we shall celebrate the 60th Independence Anniversary. We have had 6 past presidents and HH is the 7th, when did Zambia become an extremely hungry and poor country? Please take your frustrations somewhere and not on Zambia. Just because Zambia has been under HH the past two years, it has suddenly become an extremely hungry and poor country. Are you out of your mind Sir? Yes, if people themselves are lazy, they don’t work hard to produce their own food, the country can be extremely hungry and poor but Zambia hasn’t reached that level yet. Presidents of this country chose and choose where to go for their holidays, for example, KK had a farm in Chinsali, Shambalakale but in most cases he chose to go to Mfuwe to view wild animals possibly because he had no domestic animals on his farm, but that was his choice anyway. Mwanawasa had one or two farms, Teka farm being the most famous one, but at times he chose to go to Mfuwe also. RB also had a farm in Chipata, maybe it were only Chiluba, Sata and Lungu who didn’t have farms and during their holidays, they went wherever they chose to go. How can someone go to a farm which he doesn’t have? And what proof do have that HH’s wealth was acquired dubiously? Why don’t you report him to the law enforcement agents? Are you not just one of the bitter, jealous and frustrated souls we have in Zambia? If you are poor, remain and live with your poverty but leave the hardworking HH alone. The president presides over the whole country and being in Choma is just as good as being in Lusaka, Ndola or Chipata, he was within the country.
    All your arguments do not hold water and they are not even worth debating, for example, our biggest enemies in Africa are disease, poverty, hunger, ignorance and corruption. In Africa, we are also the only people who can migrate to urban areas without any source of income for accommodation and food hoping that the government will provide. We need to change our mindset and adopt the hard work attitude. We should begin to know that there is no cheap food before we produce it and there is no free food that can come our way, we have to work and produce it and that is what God says, you have to sweat and produce the food if you want to eat. The Vice President was right to advise the young people that they need to care for themselves and conquer Cholera, they should not allow Cholera to conquer them and that was a good advice. Young male Zambians are not made to be risk takers dying in mining dumps as you are trying to allege, mining has been and is still a risk business whether the economy is good or bad not only in Zambia but world over. Even as I am writing now, 22 miners are trapped underground in Tanzania since yesterday. In 2010, in Northern Chile, 33 miners were trapped underground and were there for 69 days before being rescued. If you were already grown up in 1970, we had our first and worst mining disaster in Zambia’s mining history where 89 miners died at Mufulira Copper mine. So why are you trying to overdramatize the issue as if it only happens in Zambia? The Senseli Mine disaster is just like any other disaster that has occurred anywhere in the world, it’s just unfortunate that we lost so many lives of young people at a go and some people like you are trying to make it as political as possible. The Health Minister was advising and not forcing some people to go back to the village where at least they can have good and safe environment, have a breath of fresh air, eat fresh and free food, but you are condemning her. It’s true that some town dwellers have lost track of their villages, but that does not mean that those who have villages cannot go there if need be. Contrary to what you are saying, treating Cholera victims at a conducive place like Heroes Stadium is far much better than treating them from their homes or congested hospitals and there is already a very remarkable improvement. Mr. Banda school is there to help us get enlightened in these issues but unfortunately some people get duller and more confused than before they went there. Anyway, you will keep on talking and complaining about HH because he is a unique political player, he is the type of a person who works with a vision and most of you people fail to understand him because you are used to work without any vision at all. That’s why you are accusing him of having lied to the Zambians when he never lied to anyone. Where and when did he tell us that he will fulfill all his campaign promises in one or two years? So what lying are you accusing him of when he still has three and half years to go? If a president could be given on loan like a footballer and we advertised today that we want to give away HH on loan, you can see how many countries can rush to bid for him. I have checked a list of the poorest countries in Africa and the first five are; South Sudan, Burundi, DRC, Mozambique and Niger. You can see that two of these five poorest countries are our neighbors and you know what it means, so just put your jealous, bitterness and hatred aside so that you can see properly. Zambia is blessed to have one of the best presidents in Africa and the world at large and we should thank God for that.

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