THE CHOLERA OUTBREAK EXPOSES THE INCOMPTENCY OF THE UPND GOVERNMENT
By Faston Mwale, SP Member of the Central Committee
It is patently evident that Zambia is under a specter of a leadership that is clueless, inept, passive, and corrupt and this position is in sharp contradiction to the aspirations most Zambians had when they changed government in 2021. Zambians yearned for a progressive government that would prioritize the fundamental needs of the people such as education, health, food, among others. It cannot be doubted that the UPND government is incapable of delivering these human development factors.
Given the remarkable rise in corruption, it is impossible for the UPND government to deliver meaningful development. The refusal by President Hakainde Hichilema to declare his assets and liabilities has instinctively a laid a foundation for pervasive corruption and looting of public resources by those who otherwise should be the custodians of common public assets. A country whose leadership is mired in corruption cannot go forward. The failure to contain the spread of the cholera epidemic within the expected time frame is indicative of a government that has become dysfunctional. We must disabuse ourselves of the fanciful idea that we have a government that can decisively tackle problems.
It is ironical that President Hichilema who was decorated as a Global Cholera Control Champion at the World Health Organization Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland at a time when Zambia had not recorded any single cholera death is today presiding over a country that is badly ravaged by the outbreak of Cholera in 9 out of 10 provinces. Since the first reported case in October 2023, more than 9,500 people been affected and 374 have died.
The ineptness and the cluelessness being exhibited by the Ministry of Health or the Zambian government generally in combating the Cholera epidemic does not depict President Hichilema as a Global Cholera Control Champion. Far from it. Instead, Zambia has become an obvious example of shame from this cholera episode.
For nearly 60 years of independence, the provision of dignified housing, safe drinking water and sanitation has constituted a veritable challenge for millions of our people, especially those in peri-urban settlements. Perhaps with the exclusion of the UNIP government, there has been no concrete effort by government, past and present to decisively deal with the problem of poor housing, poor sanitation and lack of access to clean water. Access to improved sanitation in Zambia has fallen over the last 15 years, and nearly half the population has no access to modern sanitation facilities at all. It must be borne in mind that Cholera is produced from poor sanitary conditions.
Presently, efforts to combat cholera are lean, sporadic, and poorly coordinated. The UPND government should heed the advice from Dr. Fred M’membe and many others for a coherent multi-sectoral strategy. Given a weak and poorly resourced health system that is broken by rampant corruption, a multi-sectoral approach could significantly bolster efforts to halt the unnecessary loss of life from cholera.