Home Editorial NOT HOOLIGANISM

NOT HOOLIGANISM

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THE fight to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus must not be based on browbeating people so as to make them adhere to the preventive measures being preached by the Ministry of Health.
Instead, the drive should aim at winning the confidence of the people and win them over so that they could start to appreciate what is at stake – their very lives.
It must be brought to their attention that coronavirus, or Covid-19 is no respecter of age, status, political affiliation or position in life.
It is in this vein that we ask authorities in Siavonga to take drastic action against the so-called vigilantes who are reportedly brutalising residents on the pretext of enforcing the presidential directive on Covid-19.
The vigilantes who include police reservists are clearly misfits who must be flushed out before the situation gets out of hand.
A local resident, Mr Victor Muzunda called on the authorities to act on the vigilantes who were beating up people in the name of the police.
We are glad though that the Siavonga District Commissioner, Mr Lovemore Kanyama has asked the local police chief, Mr Cosmas Mutale to end this mischief.
Mr Kanyama confirmed that the district administration had received complaints about the vigilantes terrorising residents without justification.
At no time has President Edgar Lungu, nor the Ministry of Health called for force against people not heeding the health guidelines over Covid-19.
Instead, the message has been peaceful persuasion through massive sensitisation through radio, television and public address systems.
The result has been that people have responded positively to the need to wear face masks when they are in public.
They have accepted the importance of constantly washing their hands with soap as well as using hand sanitisers.
At almost every entrance to a public place, one would find water and soap, as well as sanitisers being offered to the public.
It is now mandatory for anyone entering a chain store to wear a face mask.
It is obvious that Zambians have accepted the dire situation they are in regarding Covid-19 and appreciate the efforts being made by the government to protect them from the disease.
Government must indeed be credited for the phased approach to initiating a lockdown that has so far been voluntary.
Ordinary people have been allowed to go about their daily chores at markets and other trading places as opposed to enforcing a total lockdown without putting in place mitigating measures.
This is why in countries like Malawi for example, informal traders rioted when the government tried to institute a total lockdown.
Malawi was one of the last countries in the world to announce its first case of Covid-19. But ever since, it has been embroiled in a constitutional row about a lockdown the government wants to impose to tackle the pandemic.
The High Court took the unprecedented step of blocking the government’s plans to impose a lockdown until more had been done to help those worst affected.
On April 15, the government announced a 21-day lockdown, which was due to start three days later but campaigners complained that the government did this without providing help for those in need.
The Human Rights Defenders Coalition went to court to challenge the government on the issue and the courts blocked the lockdown.
On Friday, April 17, a day before the lockdown was due to start, a court injunction ordered the lockdown be delayed for seven days, pending a judicial review.
Following a judicial review, a High Court judge extended the ban for a further five days. And on Tuesday the judge decided to refer the case to the Constitutional Court because the issues raised by the petitioners required an interpretation of the constitution.
The judge ordered that until the Constitutional Court makes its ruling, the lockdown cannot be enforced.
In our edition yesterday, we reported concerns raised by Patriotic Front officials over the resistance by marketeers at Kabangwe market in Katuba Constituency to adhere to health measures to fight Covid-19.
The team, led by PF Central Province vice chairperson for mobilisation Charity Kapona was on a sensitisation drive and stressed it was important that everyone took responsibility to ensure the spread of Covid-19 was prevented.
That is the spirit in which Covid-19 must be fought, and not through hooliganism.