The leader of Zambia’s biggest opposition political party, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, yesterday took to social media with an emotional and public attention seeking post which read and we quote, “On our mind is how the Chingola couple that has tested positive for Coronavirus travelled to and from Tanzania, passed through our borders completely undetected by our screening processes – HH.”
To start with, there is no perfect system over the Coronavirus containment anywhere in the world. Recently, a German tourist shared in a WhatsApp group that, “I went through several airports on the trip. London Heathrow was like a ghost city, most people (were) in full body virus protection suits. Addis (Ababa) seemed a lot business as usual. Just some shops were closed. Lusaka was the only airport that did actual health checks, the only airport which had hand sanitizers and hand washing stations at all corners. I felt safest there!”
Secondly screening, until very recently, did not mean mass testing for the Coronavirus but checking for symptomatic people and quarantine them. It’s the failure by unpatriotic people like the Chingola couple to strictly adhere to the laid down safety measures that has forced governments around the world to resort to mandatory quarantine at points of entry.
Instead of looking for inefficiencies that the UPND leader can only fix should he win the 2021 General Elections by sensationalising any of such Covid-19 issues, he should, instead, offer leadership by stating in very clear terms what he thinks will contribute positively to preventing what he sees as a porous screening process. People want solutions against the Covid-19 now not after he wins 2021 elections which is an unlikely scenario, anyway.
The UPND leader must realise that for every mishap he gets excited about such that he immediately takes to Twitter or Facebook, our highly dedicated Multisectoral Covid-19 Prevention And Treatment Team attends to several others, a feat any leader must not overlook but must commend and appreciate even at a personal level. If fact, what he posted could equally have been on the mind of the Taskforce only they did not go to social media but instead went to their working round table.
Let’s not demoralise the front line soldiers in this fight like our health workers who are now in forced quarantine as they are not allowed to go home or to any public places after work but to designated shelters to avoid spreading the disease to their families or the general public should they be positive unknowingly. These are the issues leaders who are worth their salt are supposed to share in the public domain not what may incite the public to rise against its leadership.
May we once again look at what helped the late President Michael Sata to win over even his critics ahead of his 2011 victory! The man showed great leadership over many issues that affected the people and spoke in very clear terms what he would do if he were in charge. He avoided text book theories. The late President Mwanawasa testified to that effect. Under the former President Rupiah Banda, who can forget the ZRA workers incident when he (Sata) went to appeal to the workers, who were on the go slow, to resume work as it would cripple the economy and hurt the same workers and their families and not “Nyama Soya”?
He did not waste time riding on the country’s misfortune as is the case with the current main opposition leader. He knew he was “the” government in waiting and showed no signs of desperation for power. He was confident and his win was celebrated by the entire nation because he was a symbol of hope. Where was Mr. Hichilema when all this was happening? He had refused to work with the Patriotic Front as Vice President because all he wanted was to be Head of State.
At the time Mwanawasa was commending Sata for offering mature and practical opposition politics, Mr. Hichilema was an opposition political leader too but had practically nothing to offer and his political fortunes at a national level only came as a result of the leadership confusion that ensued in the Patriotic Front following the death of Sata not that he had any new message of hope for Zambia.
In his book, Levy Mwanawasa cautioned Zambians over the slippery character of Mr. Hichilema, saying: “The problem Mr. Hichilema is having now is the fact that he wants to cheat, to mislead, to show that he is what he is not. His understanding of politics is that it doesn’t matter; you can cheat, provided you get your goals!”
This is not the time for any politician to politicise the pandemic by inciting the nation with emotional and reckless statements on social media but to offer practical solutions that Dr. Chitalu Chilufya and his Multisectoral Team, who are doing a commendable job, can consider for immediate implementation.
These unfortunate circumstances, at times, should offer us a glimpse into the alternative leadership we need and what we must altogether forget. No leader should set out to be a leader. People should set out to live their lives, expressing themselves fully. When that expression is of value, they become leaders.
In that context, the point is not to become a leader but to become yourself, to use yourself completely, all your skills, gifts and energies, in order to make your vision manifest. You must withhold nothing. You must, in sum, become the person you started out to be, and to enjoy the process of becoming. That’s how Sata won our hearts. MHSRIP.
Photo Credit: File photo Mr. Hichilema attached to his post.
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