HEALTH Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya has suggested a total lockdown in order to stop the spread of Covid-19 but President Edgar Lungu says Zambia cannot afford a total lock down because the country is already landlocked.

And Finance Minister Dr Bwalya Ngandu says he does not have money to buy food for people in an event of a lockdown.

During a special Cabinet meeting, Thursday, a lockdown was debated.

Dr Chilufya proposed a total lock down but the Finance Minister objected saying it would pose a serious problem for the economy as there would be no opportunities for resources coming from elsewhere.

“I was listening very carefully to the submissions around the table. Clearly, already without a total lock down, we are beginning to see the negative impact on the economy. We are beginning to see a reduction in terms of value added tax that is coming through, customs duty that is coming through and also in terms of the revenue. So basically, the economy is beginning to slow down and the resource basket is beginning to constrict…So a total lock down will basically shut all opportunity for resources coming from somewhere,” Dr Ng’andu said.

Dr Ng’andu also said he didn’t have resources to buy food to feed people in their houses once a lock down was implemented.

“From where I am, my own means are limited. I’m trying to put together some measures to opulent the budget that has been approved as part of the continuous measures. Part of that will come from our resources which I think we will be able to put together and part of it will come from donor support. But I can clearly say without hesitation that we if we have a total lock down of this economy, we will have a serious problem because I don’t have the resources to for example, to buy food. Because if you lock down the country, people are not moving, those of us who have fridges and so on can afford to [stock up] but for the ordinary person, we will have to find some means by which we will be taking food to these people,” Dr Ng’andu said.

Dr Chilufya then requested to resubmit the proposal, saying he used a wrong terminology.

He said he was not suggesting a shutdown of everything but clarified that essential services like buying and selling of food would be allowed.

“I would like to resubmit and make some corrections. The word lock down, I can clearly hear from the feedback, has been misunderstood. The word lock down, we are not talking about the shutdown of everything. I should put it correctly by saying I have used wrong terminology. Essential services continue which include buying and selling of food. Because if people don’t eat, then their health is harmed. So what is now put in place are measures. Things like buying food and selling food, medical services and security (police and army) that is preserved,” Dr Chilufya said.

“What is discouraged is where people engage in non essential travel, non essential work. For instance if you are not going to buy a bag of mealie meal, food, you are not going to seek treatment, stay home. It limits the possibility of contact with someone who has a virus.”

Vice-President Inonge Wina then said ministers needed to understand that the President would need to invoke certain Acts which allowed certain measures to be taken so that he would be covered if for example, he allowed the army to go on the streets.

“At the last council meeting of ministers, I think it was agreed that the measures that will be announced by the President or the line ministry that we have been given permission to do so, should be done in phases so that we observe the situation as we implement a few measures and see how these measures are impacting on the population. For example, we have started with the issue of young children in schools and universities. We closed universities and we have seen how this is working out. And I’m sure the Ministry of Education is also developing other measures to take care of these children who are with parents at home and to see how the parents can be assisted to ensure that the children are kept in order,” she said.

“Then only yesterday or the day before, His Excellency announced measures on closing bars, restaurants and others. Honourable ministers should also be aware that some of the measures that we ask the President to take in may need to invoke certain acts for instance the Disaster Management Act which allows certain measures to be taken, will cover the President when for example orders the military to be on the streets and other measures that can be taken in that regard.”

And President Lungu argued that Zambia could not afford a total lock down for now as the country was already landlocked.

“What we are saying for now is that we cannot do a total lock down. But we will manage within what we have proclaimed. Zambia is landlocked. If you ask the Minister of Transport, we have trucks marooned in Mozambique with fuel supply and other supply [destined] for Zambia,” said President Lungu.

President Lungu emphasized continued wider and rapid testing and isolation of suspected cases of Coronavirus; immediate operationalizing of the COVID-19 Contingency Plan Budget to fight covid-19; escalating and broadening contact tracing as well as fast-tracking effective treatment for everyone in need through sufficient oxygen supply and stable electricity supply to health institutions, among others. – Diggers

 

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10 COMMENTS

  1. The negative economical impact will be worse if we end up having 20,000 COVID-19 cases in hospitals because even then no one will use your borders Mr President. You already messed up our economy please please don’t mess up with our lives. We’re calling for a total lockdown sir!

  2. Why should people expect the worst of COVID 19? This time we should put aside political and partisan affiliations and support our President and the government. Zambia should come first and we should avoid passing negative comments and always pointing at wrongs.

    It is high time also for local businesses and all individual Zambians to provide solutions and making constructive contributions.

    God will see us through this trying moment and it will come to pass. Our Kwacha will also gain its strength. Good job by honorable Chitalu Chilufya and honorable Dora Siliya for your strong leadership in updating the nation on COVID 19. God bless and protect Zambia.

  3. Mr. Finance Minister its sad that you have money for by elections, to pay cadres like Tayali, paying of Bill 10 fake supporters but you have no money for food in the times of fighting the coronavirus this is very sad. WHAT A JOKE!

  4. Ghana to be on lockdown for 14 days in ACCRA and Khumatsi starting Monday, 30 March 2020. Zimbabwe also to join Ghana on Monday. Angola is already on lockdown.

  5. I agree with you Mr. Change has Come. If it was a by- election, paying for Lungwangwa, kasonso, Chishala, Nakachinda…the list is endless, to support infamous Bill 10, the money would be readily available.

  6. Comment: adhere to what people are saying ,lock down ,stop putting people of Zambia at risk before the number goes beyond,

  7. Government be serious on this disease, otherwise people they will die.lockdown at least for 2 weeks, people they have harvested very is alot of food.Better to prevent your people than to be attacked by that disease covid 19.so you only have 6million for buying mps,so that they support bill 10?

  8. Comment:Dont think about the money you are going to lose, think about the lives of pipo you are going lose… Leadership is all about thinking about the future… Finance minister busy saying I don’t have money to buy food for these pipo kkkkk stop being funny are you the one using your money or what… Stop thinking about tax you rotten brains covid-19 is deadly

  9. Our Government of PF (GOP) is lost at sea! They have no clue on what needs to be done within Zambia’s capabilities. Even the one chairing has no clue! He is like a manager who has no clue who calls for meetings to steal his team’s ideas and make them like his own without acknowledgement of contributions from the team!
    It’ll be interesting to see what decisions they end up with. SADC is also fast asleep! They should stop passenger movements but Cargo trucks should be allowed Free passage to keep essential supplies going otherwise, essentials will run out and when that happens, people will have no choice but to break lockdown rules to look for supplies! Who is this SADC Chairperson sleeping at the wheel? Open the borders to Trucks only! Trucks need to deliver essential supplies! Also, the congestion created by Trucks in certain locations will cause health problems for drivers and communities alike! Think like your friends in Developed countries for once!

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