Wednesday, 3rd February, 2021

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Wednesday, 3rd February, 2021


The House met at 1430 hours


[MR SPEAKER in the Chair]












The Minister of Health (Dr Chanda): Mr Speaker, I wish to start by thanking you for the opportunity to address this august House, and through it, the nation at large, in order to give an update on the Coronavirus Disease-2019, famously known as COVID-19, situation in the country.


Sir, the Government under the able leadership of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, prioritises the health and wellbeing of Zambians as critical investments necessary for sustainable development. This aspiration is aligned to the country’s twenty-five year development plan, the Vision 2030, whose goal is for the country to become a prosperous middle-income country by 2030. This is also amplified in our Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP).


Mr Speaker, to achieve this goal, the Government remains committed to ensuring that universal health coverage is attained by leaving no one behind, using a primary healthcare approach across a continuum of care which includes primitive, preventative, curative, rehabilitative and palliative interventions.


Sir, the Government has also embarked on safeguarding public health security through the enactment of the Zambia National Public Health Institute Act No. 19 of 2020. The strengthening of public health security is cardinal in addressing all the core capacities, capabilities and technical areas needed to contain epidemics and pandemics within the country and across the borders.


Mr Speaker, currently, Zambia is grappling with the global COVID-19 pandemic. It is just slightly over one year since the first COVID-19 cases were reported in Wuhan City, China, and approximately ten months from the time that Zambia reported its first two cases. The COVID-19 outbreak, which was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on 11th March, 2020, continues to evolve and has become complex and dynamic in its presentation and management. Its catastrophic effects on human life and country economies cannot be overemphasised.


Sir, I should also hasten to say that no country or healthcare system in the world was ever prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic and the result has been overwhelming for public health systems across the globe.


Mr Speaker, following the confirmation of 1,256 new cases out of a total of 10,730 tests performed in the previous twenty-four hours as of today, 3rd February, 2021, Zambia has now crossed the 50,000 case mark. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases recorded on this date is 57,489.


Sadly, ten new deaths were recorded in the last twenty-fours, hence bringing the cumulative number of deaths to 804, classified as 364 COVID-19 deaths, 411 as COVID-19 associated deaths and twenty-nine deaths are pending classification.


Sir, a cumulative number of 50,479 people have recovered since the beginning of the outbreak as of today, 3rd February, 2021. As you can see, our recovery rates are quite encouraging, with up to 88 per cent of the cases recovered to date. We currently have 6,206 active cases, of which 5,771, that is 93 per cent, are under community management and 435, or 7 per cent, are currently admitted to our COVID-19 isolation facilities, with 296 on oxygen therapy and forty-six in critical condition. This means that about 11 per cent of all admitted cases are in critical condition and 70 per cent of all patients admitted in facilities require oxygen support. This highlights the demand on our health services that this pandemic is creating. The disease, which initially affected mostly the elderly and those with underlying conditions in the first wave, is increasingly being noted among young people, especially during this current second wave.


Sir, the Government of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, continues to use a multi-sectoral approach to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Various well coordinated platforms are in place to ensure technical and policy aspects of the response are managed efficiently and effectively. The co-ordination platforms include:


  1. the National Disaster Management Council of Ministers;
  2. the Inter-Ministerial Multi-Sectoral Committee of Permanent Secretaries for Disaster Management;
  3. the Epidemic Preparedness, Prevention, Control and Management Committees at national and sub-national levels; and
  4. the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre at the Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI).


Sir, a COVID-19 national multi-sectoral contingency and response plan has been developed that outlines the various strategies being employed for mitigating the outbreak. The plan is reviewed and revised regularly depending on current and prevailing evidence as well as the reading of the trajectory of the pandemic. Currently, this plan is being updated through the leadership of the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) and with support from co-operating partners. The Ministry of Health is using an eight pronged approach to control and prevent the outbreak from spreading and this includes the following:


  1. surveillance and case finding;
  2. case management;
  3. infection prevention and control;
  4. risk communication and community engagement;
  5. laboratory diagnosis;
  6. logistics and supply chain management;
  7. appropriate, competent and adequate workforce; and
  8. routine essential health services.


Mr Speaker, the first wave was characterised by the escalated number of cases, increased hospitalisation and high number of deaths were experienced between July and early September, 2020. Zambia experienced reduced cases and deaths from mid September to early December 2020, but unfortunately, as anticipated, we were hit with a second wave which begun in the second week of December, 2020. This period coincided with the festive season, a period when there was increased gatherings by families and friends, including those who travel from abroad. Poor adherence to public health measures including lack of masking up, crowding, poor hand hygiene and low enforcement of the adherence to these interventions in public places, compounded by low temperatures, which are associated with the outbreak in this increased wave.


Sir, during this second wave, a new strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 was isolated in a number of patients. This variant called 501Y.V2, was found to be easily transmitted and was associated with a high number of cases, leading to more severe cases, hospitalisation and deaths. It was found to be similar with the one that was isolated in South Africa.


Mr Speaker, the fast changing epidemiology entails an increased disease burden that continues to negatively affect the socio-economic status of the country. The number of people requiring admission and specialist care in our facilities continues to escalate. This increased demand is overwhelming the health service delivery system and, therefore, has led to adjustments in the way of delivering these services. A home based care system has thus been devised and is as follows:


  1. Those who test positive to COVID-19, but do not have complaints or symptoms, that is being asymptomatic, are advised to self isolate and be managed from their homes. These people are expected to monitor themselves and report any changes that they may experience while in self isolation. If these people develop symptoms, they are supposed to report themselves to the nearest health facility for assessment. Once they are assessed at the health facility and are found to have mild symptoms not requiring admission, they are allowed to continue home isolation and the monitoring of symptoms. If symptoms persist, these people should go back to the health facility as soon as possible for further assessments.
  2. While on home based care management, the asymptomatic patients or those without symptoms including those with very mild symptoms are advised to use some home remedies such as the following:


  1. supplementation with vitamins;
  2. balance diet with additional fruits and vegetables;
  3. taking plenty of fluids to ensure one is well hydrated at all times;
  4. engaging in light exercises; and
  5. steaming up, commonly known as ukufutikila in our local languages.


Mr Speaker, the Government has set up COVID-19 admission facilities across the country including private health facilities where those who require admission are managed. There has been a downward trend in the number of those in admission countrywide, from over 500 at the peak of this second wave to the current average of about 435. However, the Copperbelt Province is seeing an increase in admissions. The majority of our in-patients, that is 70 per cent, are still very sick and requiring oxygen therapy. Though the deaths have been reducing in the last week, we remain cautious as the situation may change any time and also the fact that those who are being admitted at this time are very sick.


Mr Speaker, the oxygen supply has been ramped up across the country in the main health facilities in Lusaka, which include, Levy Mwanawasa University Teaching Hospital, Maina Soko Military Hospital, and the University Teaching Hospital. There is now adequate and reliable oxygen supply from the oxygen plants. The Copperbelt Province has also received more support with more oxygen cylinders being sent over to the province through various partners. We are still looking at the means of having large oxygen plants on the Copperbelt and across the country as a long-term solution. I must also point out that we are engaging key stakeholders for portable oxygen machines that will serve our rural areas better.


Sir, our patients in health facilities are being managed using various treatment regiments including Hyparin, Remdesivir, Dexamethasone; and various antibiotics. Those that are critical require further interventions such as plasmapheresis, which is basically blood purification and do require albumin as well. The ministry is very active in looking at emerging data and evidence which can help manage those who are admitted and will continue revising guidelines whenever new reliable evidence comes up. I wish, therefore, to take this opportunity to thank our various co-operating partners and the United Nations (UN) family in Zambia for the great support we continue to receive in our COVID-19 response.


Mr Speaker, the Government has guided that schools reopen cautiously as scheduled on 1st February, 2021, following the two weeks which was given to enable preparations. In this, we are not applying a one size fits all or a one bullet theory, but we will ensure that schools are assessed on a case by case basis as fit to enable learning to take place within the spirit of the five golden rules. The Ministry of Health staff at various levels have worked and will continue to work with various stakeholders including the Ministry of General Education and the Ministry of Higher Education to ensure that schools, colleges and universities comply with the public health guidelines, and those not ready will not be allowed to operate, or those which are open, but flaunting these rules will be closed without hesitation.


Mr Speaker, I wish to emphasise that COVID-19 does not have a cure and, therefore, prevention remains cardinal. The public health measures and the five golden rules must always be adhered to and these are:


  1. masking up consistently and correctly in public;
  2. hand hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitiser;
  3. social or physical distancing;
  4. avoiding crowded places wherever you can and if you have no business to go about, stay at home; and
  5. in case you have COVID-19, seeking medical care early when symptoms develop.


Mr Speaker, it is very important for people to report to the nearest health facility when symptoms develop in order to avoid late presentation. Our observations are that people who present themselves early to health facilities tend to have better outcomes than those who present themselves late when the oxygen saturation levels are very low and have suffered hypoxid injury. I urge this august House, and through it, the general public to adhere to this simple guidance.


Mr Speaker, as a preventive intervention, COVID-19 vaccines have since been developed and have shown to be effective and safe for use in the general populations. However, Zambia is consulting various stakeholders on the matter, and in addition, the Ministry of Health has set up a task force of local experts and scientists to advise on the whole process to ensure that due diligence is done by considering the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. Of late, this matter has attracted a lot of attention by the public. A Cabinet Memorandum on the acquisition, deployment and use of COVID-19 vaccines in Zambia has since been prepared and will be tabled in Cabinet for consideration. Afterwards, the nation will be informed of the next course of action.


Sir, I want to assure Zambians that in the COVID-19 process, there shall be total transparency, accountability and full information on efficacy and safety shall be availed. In short, there will no backroom vaccines.


Mr Speaker, may I conclude by assuring this august House and the nation at large that the Government remains committed to ensuring the lives of Zambians are safe and the devastating social and economic effects of COVID-19 are adequately mitigated.


Sir, allow me to acknowledge the efforts and commitment of all the frontline health workers and responders who are working tirelessly beyond their call of duty to ensure the people of Zambia are well protected and cared for at all times. I also extend gratitude to all stakeholders who remain party to the prevention and control of COVID-19, including hon. Members of this august House who are our key ambassadors in the communities they represent. Additionally, I wish to request my fellow hon. Members of the House to continue urging the members of their constituency to continuously observe the prescribed public health guidelines. Together, we shall conquer the COVID-19 pandemic.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.


Mr Speaker: Hon. Members are now free to ask questions on points of clarification on the statement issued by the hon. Minister of Health.


Mr Mwila (Chimwemwe): Mr Speaker, in some cases, we have seen health personnel stopping the viewing of bodies of people who died from the Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) and wrapping the bodies in a plastic material. So, I would like to find out the correct position. Is it allowed to view the bodies of people who died from COVID-19 and is it appropriate to cover the bodies in a plastic material? Are there exceptions or is it supposed to be done to everybody?


Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, I should mention that a pre-COVID-19 world does not exist. We are now in a COVID-19 world and going towards a post-COVID-19 world. So, some things that we have always embraced customarily and traditionally such as shaking hands, being in crowded places such as funerals, kitchen parties, chilangamulilos and other major events cannot be done. The virus has taught us that some things have to change otherwise we will perish. That applies to what we call super-spreader events, which include places where people are crowded and one of the golden rules is that we should avoid crowded places. However, when I was on the Copperbelt, where the hon. Member comes from, I saw people go to a funeral packed in buses and trucks, and no one was wearing a face mask and then from that event, we had COVID-19 cases at Ndola Teaching Hospital and Kitwe Teaching Hospital. So, in short, what we are saying is that we have to mourn with dignity, but we also have to listen to the guidance of the public health experts.


Sir, when it is confirmed that a person has died from COVID-19, public health measures have to be put in place otherwise you risk all the mourners at the funeral house getting infected even before they do body viewing. So, we encourage very few people to be at funerals and to observe the public health guidelines. We should make sure that we wear face masks at every funeral and gathering we attend. However, the numbers should be minimised. When a person dies from COVID-19, the virus does not die and his/her body is infectious. So, those handling the body have to take measures to make sure that they protect the public, including the bereaved family itself. There are very good examples that I can give. Let me take this opportunity to thank the Catholic Church in Zambia, which led by example when we lost high profile priests. When conducting funerals, the church has minimised the number of people in attendance. Very few people attend its funerals and they observe all the public health guidelines. That should be an example to all of us Zambians. So, business as usual will not do in the midst of a pandemic.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Mr Muchima (Ikeleng’i): Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. Minister for the statement because it is very important to the country as a whole. It borders on our lives in Zambia and it is non- political.


Sir, what measures is the Government putting in place to stop those people who are contravening the Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) guidelines? Let me give an example of my constituency where we from the Opposition observe the guidelines, but it is business as usual for those in the Ruling Party, the Patriotic Front (PF). They address public meetings without adhering to the COVID-19 guidelines. What measures is the Government putting in place to see to it that there is non-political interference as regards to adhering to the guidelines?


Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, on a light moment, I was wondering if that was a cock in the background in Ikeleng’i. However, let me say that COVID-19 is colour and tribe blind. It does not know any political affiliation. The people who we have lost in the country were from different sections and political parties. I should mention that we are dealing with a generalised pandemic which has affected all the ten provinces and districts of Zambia. In fact, that is a very important question because we are in an election year.


Sir, His Excellency the President has directed the Ministry of Health to engage with the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to see what measures we need to put in place. We need to guide our political activists just like we are guiding either traditional leaders or the church mother bodies which we have engaged with very closely. We are also engaging with the politicians. I am happy that even the Opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) has sought for advice in terms of how to conduct the national convention. That is very commendable. We have engaged all the key, civil and political leaders in the country to make sure that the pandemic does not devastate us.


Mr Speaker, if you go to the hospital, you will not see UPND or PF patients, but Zambian patients. The statistics that we announce are not mere numbers. These are real people who include our parents, brothers and sisters. So, the pandemic does not have a political tone and we will make sure that all the Zambians adhere to the guidance being given. Otherwise, we risk the pandemic overwhelming the whole country. 


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Sing’ombe (Dundumwezi): Mr Speaker, what is the hon. Minister doing to ensure that there are testing kits for the Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) in health posts and clinics in rural areas like Dundumwezi? This is because at the moment when a person dies, he/she is just picked and taken to the mortuary. The process of testing the bodies that are taken to the mortuaries is so cumbersome because they are not tested where they come from. So, what is the ministry doing to ensure that before a person is touched by any other person, he/she is tested at the point of death?


Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, like I said, health workers and the families are more at risk because when someone is sick, they are the first contact and they will not know if that person had COVID-19. That is why we are saying that the fight against COVID-19 can be won at household and community levels, and we keep on announcing the public health guidelines. Once you suspect that a family member may have COVID-19, you have to take measures to protect yourself such as wearing a mask and if possible wear some gloves, but the virus can easily be transmissible within the household. A number of health workers have been infected by COVID-19 and we have lost most of them. A number of doctors, nurses and other categories of health workers are at risk because they are the ones who receive the patients.


Sir, it does not matter at which level you are, whether at family or community level or you are a health worker, you have to ensure that you observe the prevention and control measures against COVID-19. So, in short, I understand the issue about testing kits. The demand has outstripped the supply. That is why I commend the co-operating partners for the support that they are giving to the Government. I must mention that the past few days, I have actually engaged about six ambassadors accredited to Zambia who are helping us.  I have engaged the United States of America (USA) Chargé d’Affaires, the British High Commissioner, the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Zambia, the Chinese Ambassador, the Japanese Ambassador, the French Ambassador and many other co-operating partners. Today, I was with the World Health Organisation (WHO) representatives and we have been assured of more support in terms of diagnostic test kits and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for our health workers. So, let me assure the hon. Member for Dundumwezi that through our district health directors and provincial health directors, we are doing our best to ensure that every part of the country is touched.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Kundoti (Luena): Mr Speaker, if you took a drive in our densely populated areas, you will realise that there is no adherence to the wearing of face masks, and there is no social distancing. In short, there is very low adherence to the five golden rules. Does the Government have any plans of making it mandatory for everyone who walks on the streets or goes to a public place, except in their homes, to wear a face mask so that we can see a reduction in the transmission of this pandemic?


Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, there is no Zambian today who does not know what COVID-19 is. Everyone knows about it because of the sensitisation messages. However, what is lacking is behavioural change. It is one thing to have the message and it is another thing to change the behaviour of human beings. Changing the behaviour of human beings starts with us. As leaders and key stakeholders, are we leading by example? Every community has what we call community gatekeepers. At a market, there is a market committee. At a bus station, there is some form of organisation. In rural areas, we have village headmen and traditional leaders and we also have Church mother bodies. The Government is engaging all these key stakeholders.


Sir, last week, the hon. Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs and I engaged all the Church mother bodies in Zambia because everyone in this country belongs to a church. The Church has to take a leading role, and I am very happy that it has taken that leading role in ensuring that all of us who are members, whatever our religious affiliation is, adheres to the measures. Other groupings such as Islamic groups, the Hindus and the others are also doing the same. Yesterday, some traditional leaders from some parts of the country came to meet me because everyone is affected by COVID-19. So, for me, there will only be behavioural change when we personalise the fight.


Mr Speaker, the fight against COVID-19 is not only for the Ministry of Health, but for every Zambian. We should take individual responsibility in our homes. If the people whom we live with are not complying with the guidelines, we should be the first ones to ask them why they are not wearing masks, not washing their hands, and going to crowded places. So, the fight against the pandemic starts from the home, the neighbourhood, the community and the entire country. In short, the fight against COVID-19 can be won at the community level, and not at a facility or hospital level because by the time someone goes to a facility, it shows that the community has failed and the disease is spreading. So, I urge all of us, especially, we, hon. Members of Parliament who represent the 18 million Zambians, the councillors, and religious leaders to also take a very active role in sensitising our people because it is our fight.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Speaker: Hon. Minister of Health, the question was: Are you planning or contemplating on making the wearing of masks compulsory in public?


Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, I think that was the latter part of the question because the first part of it was about high-density areas, but however, I appreciate.


Sir, we always say that a person should wear a mask in public consistently and correctly, and we avoid using the word ‘mandatory’ because it has a connotation of enforcement and an aspect of policing. In some countries, these activities are policed, and in other countries I cannot mention, more people died because of policing than from the virus. So, from our experience as scientists, we do not believe that policing is the effective way to fight COVID-19, but behavioural change. Even if we made the wearing of a face masks mandatory, the question comes on enforcement. When people are in their houses, who is going to monitor whether they are wearing a face mask? People will impress a police officer by wearing a face mask, but immediately he goes, they will drop it and we will not defeat the problem. So, in the end, the first line of defence is behavioural change for everyone. However, making the wearing of face masks mandatory is currently not on our books as the Government.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Dr Imakando (Mongu Central): Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister has indicated that 70 per cent of the admitted cases require oxygen support. He has also informed us that they have ramped up oxygen supply to many health facilities. Of the 70 per cent admitted cases that require oxygen, how many of them actually get it?


Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, like I said in my statement, there is oxygen support in large areas such as in Lusaka, other bigger provinces and all our big hospitals. We do not have a shortage of oxygen. Although, I must mention that the difference between COVID-19 cases and other cases which require oxygen is that with COVID-19 cases, you need a high flow of oxygen. One patient can consume many cylinders of oxygen and that is why the demand can easily outstrip the supply. So, our health facilities have oxygen. However, we still need more oxygen and that is why we are engaging co-operating partners.


Sir, like I mentioned in the statement, in rural areas, what will help us a lot are the portable oxygen machines because they can be used from village to village. They are not like the heavy cylinders. So, that is one approach being used to reach people in the hard-to-reach or remote areas. However, I must give comfort to our Zambian citizens that we have oxygen in our facilities and we are receiving a lot more. Today, we transported a lot of oxygen cylinders to the Copperbelt, which is becoming a new epicentre. We have a lot of cases on the Copperbelt. So, we sent more oxygen cylinders to the Copperbelt today. The Association of the Indian Community in Zambia has also donated a lot of oxygen cylinders, including the American Government, and we are still getting more. So, the answer is that we have oxygen in our facilities.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Mr Speaker:  Before the hon. Member for Luampa, let us have the hon. Member for Solwezi East.


Mr Kintu (Solwezi East): Mr Speaker, we are receiving mixed messages about the Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) vaccination versus the virus variant. Viruses constantly change through mutations. New variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Are we going to keep changing vaccines as long as new variants emerge?


Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, I am a former member of the Committee on Health, Community Development and Social Services where we had such deliberations.


Sir, the hon. Member is right. Viruses by their nature can mutate. That is why we are talking about the first wave, second wave, and it is also possible to have a third wave and a fourth wave. For example, Japan is currently in its third wave, while we are talking about the second wave. However, the genetic material of the virus largely remains almost the same. The vaccines that are on the market today have efficacy depending on various variances and the few I can mention are Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson , Novavax, AstraZeneca, including the Chinese, Russian and Indian vaccines. It has been shown that most of these vaccines’ overall efficacy in different populations is above 94 to 95 per cent. However, when it comes to the variants, we know that some of these vaccines will not be as effective as others, but they are still effective and protective.


Mr Speaker, a vaccine by its nature is protective.  It is not a cure. When you are vaccinated, you will still get exposed to COVID-19, but you will not suffer from a serious disease. So, the vaccines that we have are still effective. That is why I said that in our selection of vaccines, we shall be informed by science on what the best possible vaccine for Zambia is. So, we are not in a hurry to just bring vaccines like a one bullet fits all approach. We are looking at what the best vaccine is depending on the variant that we have which is very similar to the South African variant. That is the memorandum that I am taking to the Cabinet and the guidance that we will give the nation.  


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Speaker: Order!


Hon. Members, I also have a list of requests gathered via zoom. So, I will be alternating between the two. I will get to the zoom list.


 Dr Kalila (Lukulu East): Mr Speaker, I want to pose a question to my colleague, whom I should first congratulate for assuming that very challenging role of hon. Minister of Health. We wish him well as he begins to restore confidence in the Ministry of Health, which is at its all time low at the moment.


Sir, my question relates to a clarification which I want to seek from my colleague, the hon. Minister. At the moment, cases in Zambia continue soaring and if I am not mistaken, we are currently probably leading in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) area other than South Africa. However, from the explanation that has been given, we continue to resist the temptation to lockdown the country on account of balancing between economics and the health of our citizens.


Sir, if we look at Zimbabwe which is a landlocked country just like us, to some extent, you will notice that it also depends on imports. Many other countries in the SADC Region have locked down their countries. In the case of Zimbabwe, the cases continue to go down. Again, I would like the hon. Minister to clarify why we keep dragging our feet in taking a drastic approach that will cut human to human transmission as we have seen from other countries.


Dr Chanda: Sir, I wish to thank the hon. Member for Lukulu East who is indeed, a colleague and also my former Chairperson in the Parliamentary Committee on Health, Community Development and Social Services. However, let me mention that the COVID-19 is a novel virus. In truth, there is no expert internationally. Even the people who are claiming to be experts in COVID-19 are not truly experts in a true sense because we are dealing with a very new disease whose epidemiology is changing very fast.


Sir, just yesterday, I was engaging the Japanese Ambassador. Japan and Zambia have actually taken a very similar approach in the COVID-19 fight. Japan has never had a lockdown yet it has done far much better than some countries in Europe, which have had severe lockdowns. The United Kingdom (UK) has had lockdowns. Many parts in the United States of America (USA) have had lockdowns. South Africa has had them too, but if you look at the numbers, they are much more than those in Japan. So, there is no ‘one size fits all’ in the sense that if that country locks down, we should also have a lockdown.


Mr Speaker, let me mention that COVID-19 is not only a health issue, but a socioeconomic issue because the economy has to run, and functions in society have to go on, but in the new normal. This is why our emphasis is on prevention. How long can we lock the country down because no one knows when COVID-19 is going away? If COVID-19 will be here for the next ten years, are we going to be on lockdown for the next ten years? Those are the practical questions we should ask ourselves. Even in the USA, the lockdown is done state by state. Some states locked down while others did not. The Government’s policy is not to lock down the country, but we will instead emphasise on the guidelines.


 Mr Speaker, I should, in fact, also take this opportunity to say that this emotive topical debate on whether schools should open or not is not only happening in Zambia. For instance, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) in the USA has carried out a study which is very authoritative. It carried out a study of adherence in schools for over thirteen weeks in the midst of community spread. What it found out was that when students adhered to the public health measures, the number of people who got infected was insignificant. In fact, in that study, no teacher was infected from the school facilities.


Sir, the emphasis is on prevention which entails following the very simple guidelines which the ministry has set. We can talk about enforcement. I do not know why the issue of face masking is so difficult. For instance, if one went to East Park now or any shopping mall, where one expects the elites to be, he or she would find out that some of the people’s face masks are hanging by their necks, others by the chin while others just carry them. The masks are like decorations and yet, people understand their importance. Probably, we may have to rethink how we do things because this is a fast changing disease. If the disease is fast changing, we may also have to change some of the strategies in future to ensure that we strictly enforce public health measures, which are very simple for someone to follow and understand.


Sir, in short, Zambia will not go under a lockdown. Further, we review the COVID-19 situation every morning all over the world, regionally and in Zambia. When we look at the mortality cases, Zambia actually has very low mortality rates compared to the countries the hon. Member is referring to. Zimbabwe and Malawi have had fewer people tested than Zambia, but have very high mortality rates. South Africa is also included because it has very high death rates.  I think we should give ourselves a small pat on the back, but we are not yet out of the woods. By following these measures, we shall overcome.


 I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Ms Chisangano (Gwembe): Mr Speaker, my question is based on the people who test positive, but are sent home.  We have been seeing some people who have tasted positive moving around going to the market, Church, and drinking places. What measures is the Government putting in place to ensure that the patients who are isolating at home do not spread the virus in the community?


 Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. Member for Gwembe for that very important point. In fact, it touches on the strategy which the Government has put in place. Our policy on case management is that not every COVID-19 positive case needs to be managed in a health facility otherwise the health care system will collapse. This is why I read out very clearly the case management policy in terms of those who are asymptomatic, have mild symptoms and the severe symptoms.


Sir, this is why I was saying that the fight against COVID-19 starts in the homes where we live and the communities where we are. This strategy would work on the multi-sectoral approach especially at the community level. So, if someone fails to isolate at home, obviously, they are not alone. They have families, friends and neighbours and people who know that one had tested positive for COVID-19. So, what are those people doing to ensure that such a person really follows the simple guidance that he has been given because the health workers will not camp at houses for twenty-four hours to ensure that someone does not leave? This fight comes down to us, as individuals, families and societies. This is why I am saying we are engaging all these key stakeholders. We have also engaged the Church, where the COVID-19 patient goes, so that it can also help to send the message of following the simple instructions given by the health workers.


Sir, like the hon. Member has alluded to, the key is to stop the community spread. If we can cut on the transmission of the COVID-19 at the community level then, we shall be on the way to defeating the pandemic. However, if people are moving around anyhow even when they know they have the disease then, it becomes a serious issue. This is why I said that probably as a situation unfolds, we may have to go for more strict measures to ensure that we protect others because in the end, it is about protecting the public instead of individual freedom messing up the public. We are still taking measures and alike. This is why I said councillors, hon. Members, community members and everyone needs to be involved in these measures to ensure that we enforce things and prevent people from transmitting the disease to other people.


 I thank you, Mr Speaker.                                                                                              


Mr Miyanda (Mapatizya): Mr Speaker, my concern is on all of us masking up. It is true that when we move around the constituency, whether in towns or villages, people must mask up. However, I would like to find out from the hon. Minister how long someone can use a face mask like the one the hon. Minister of Health is wearing now and the N95 mask, which is white. The colour of the mask literally changes. How long should someone use a face mask? Can one use it for one to four days, especially those similar to the one the hon. Minister is wearing and the N95 masks?


Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, I think we have two types of masks; the reusable and disposable ones. There are clinical masks, like the one that I am wearing and the N5 ones. Most of these are disposable, which means that if you use them, you have to throw them away. If you want, you can use one in the morning and another later in the day. However, this again depends on where you have been. If you have been in many crowded places, it is advisable that you change the mask frequently, rather than using the same mask over and over again. This is because there is also what we call contamination. While removing a face mask that has been exposed to so many people and viruses, you can end up contaminating yourself, especially if you do not have a sanitiser. Therefore, disposable masks have to be changed quite frequently, especially when you have been exposed in many public places. We are advising that you have to stop going into crowded places, if you can. As for the reusable masks, as long as they are of good quality and washable, you can use them again. They do not need to be disposed of. So I think that is the simple answer.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Ms Lubezhi (Namwala): Mr Speaker, I would like to congratulate the new hon. Minister of Health on his appointment. Between the two groupings, that is school learners and hon. Members of Parliament, which one is more vulnerable to getting the Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19)?


Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, I want to thank the hon. Member for Namwala for that very tricky research based question. However, I understand the angle from which she is coming. I quoted a study by the CDCP in the USA on schools enforcing COVID-19 prevention guidelines. In this regard, if you go to some schools, you will find that no child can enter the school without a face mask. The schools also have hand washing facilities and physical distancing is very easy to enforce.


Sir, on the contrary, hon. Members of Parliament, by our nature, represent our people. Therefore, we have to be in the constituencies to meet people and interact a lot with crowds, while children at school are more or less kept in confined places.

Sir, like I said, we do assessments of schools. We ensure that every school has those guidelines in place and are enforcing them. Therefore, I think the chance of this virus spreading among school children is actually much lower.


As for the hon. Members, I think it is just a matter of taking personal responsibility, just like for every other Zambians, because there is no different set of rules for various groups. Public health guidelines are all the same for hon. Members of Parliament, schools, churches or traditional leaders and everyone has to follow them as such.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.


Mr Speaker: I am getting back to the e-Chamber list.


Mr Chikote (Luampa): Mr Speaker, first of all, I would like to congratulate my neighbour, the hon. Minister. My source of concern is on schools in rural areas in our constituencies. From the little observations I have made, I have seen a few things happening in cities, such as monitoring of people’s temperature and some cooperating partners donating face masks to schools. However, since the schools opened on Monday, we have seen that most them do not have Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) prevention measures in place. Therefore, what is the Government doing to support the schools in rural areas that cannot manage to get facilities such as face masks and thermometers to check the pupils’ temperature?


Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, I think I touched on that aspect in the ministerial statement. I said that an assessment of the schools has been done. In fact, today I received a report on the assessment of schools across the country and over 80 per cent of schools have been assessed. Of course, there are some schools in very hard to reach areas that have not been assessed, but the majority of schools have been evaluated. Therefore, we know that the bulk of them meet the minimum standards for pupils to start learning.


Sir, a thermometer is not really a requirement for a school. What we are talking about is prevention. The thermometer is only used to check the temperature to know whether one is sick or not. The prevention we are talking about is wearing a face mask, hand washing and avoiding crowded places. I think on the five golden rules, the issue of checking someone’s temperature is not there. The checking of the temperatures of the peoples is good because it can be an indicator of what could be happening, which can give an early signal. It can be used to determine whether one needs a COVID-19 test or not.


Mr Speaker, I think the basics for us are wearing a face mask, hand washing and avoiding crowding. Those are the simple measures.  In a case where someone tests positive, it is important to monitor the temperature. However, whatever we do, it has been shown that if every Zambian was to comply with all these measures, we would cut down COVID-19 transmission by over 80 per cent. That is assuming everyone complies whether they are in school, at a market or at home. However, we know that life is not perfect. The ideal situation would be ceteris paribus, all things being equal, but life is never equal. There will still be a small percentage of people who may still get infected and this is where the fifth golden rule says, “Seek medical treatment early.” Therefore, we provide testing because when symptoms are detected early, the outcomes are better.


Sir, nonetheless, I take cognisance of the hon. Member’s concern. The assessments have been done and our health and education authorities are working very closely. So we are going to verify with our district health directors in Luampa to see what the real situation is. I would urge hon. Members to also work very actively with our district health directors and the district education authorities because those are the people that are doing the assessments.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Chaatila (Moomba): Mr Speaker, last year, during the first wave of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), we saw many local companies and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) donating both materials and finances towards fighting COVID-19 almost on a daily basis at the Ministry of Health. We are aware that there were issues about these materials and finances being misused. Now, the second wave is in fact more contagious, but we are not seeing these local companies and NGOs coming to the ministry to make donations. Have they been restricted or what has happened?


Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, perhaps some things are a matter of style rather than substance. As I said in the statement, we have actually received a lot of support from our co-operating partners such as oxygen equipment. The great equaliser in the fight against COVID-19 in the second wave is the availability of oxygen. Many co-operating partners, including the USA Government, European Union (EU), Japanese Government and the Swedes have all been major players and have donated a lot of oxygen facilities to us. As I said earlier, we are taking a lot of this equipment to other parts of the country because 70 per cent of the people who are admitted in health facilities need oxygen.


Mr Speaker, in the first wave, obviously, many of patients may not have required oxygen. In this regard, we should look at the quality of what is donated because the cost of setting up an oxygen plant or acquiring cylinders is much higher than the donation of, let us say, sanitisers. I can take truckloads of sanitisers to the Ministry of Health, but that may be ineffective in the second wave. In terms of effectiveness to save lives, what we need now is oxygen.


Sir, if you go to a Shoprite supermarket or anywhere else, you can get sanitisers. Before the first wave, Zambians were probably not using sanitisers. It was not part of our culture to use sanitisers, but when that first wave came, people had to catch up. So some of these things are what we call early movers. Early movers are the kind of things which people get used to in a new way of doing things. As we can see now, a lot of Zambians can afford to buy their own sanitisers. For us, we are focused on the major life saving issues in our facilities like the provision of oxygen and I talked about portable cylinders and other things. So it is not an issue of people stopping coming to Ndeke House.


Mr Speaker, I think the co-operating partners have been very actively engaged. Yesterday, I engaged four ambassadors. They have given us a lot of support and we are very grateful. Last evening, I met with the Association of the Indian Community in Zambia, which apart from giving us oxygen equipment and other things has actually offered a huge facility with about 200 beds. This association is actually offering to also support us with more bed spaces because we need to be prepared. We do not want to be caught napping if at all a third wave came. We need to be prepared by having oxygen, bed spaces and all that. Therefore, I would like to assure the hon. Member that the co-operating partners, including many Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and individuals in Zambia, are still giving very substantive life saving donations.


  I thank you, Sir.


 Mr Speaker: I will begin winding down and I will call on the hon. Leader of the Opposition.


  Mr Mwiimbu (Monze Central): Mr Speaker, what measures has the ministry put in place in order to restore confidence in the minds of the ordinary Zambians taking into account the issues that have arisen in the ministry pertaining to fake medicines? The hon. Minister may recall that of late, his ministry has recalled a number of medicines which are actually being used in managing the Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19), and as a result of the recall, a number of citizens are now sceptical pertaining to the use of those medicines. I have in mind the recalling of Vitamin C after establishing that it was fake medicine and it was being supplied by the ministry and was consumed by a number of our people. What measures has the ministry put in place in order to restore confidence in the minds of Zambians for them to take the medicines that are being supplied by the ministry without the fear of consuming fake medicines?


Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, I am aware that, yesterday, the hon. Member raised a point of order on the happenings at the Ministry of Health. I will come and issue a comprehensive statement in Parliament next week on the point of order that the hon. Member raised although the guidance was that he files in a question, but I prefer to come and issue a comprehensive statement next week with your permission.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Speaker: Hon. Minister, I am alive to the point of order that was raised yesterday and I obviously directed the hon. Leader of the Opposition that he was at liberty to file a question, but in the meanwhile, I also informed the House and the nation at large that you were scheduled to present this statement this afternoon. As I see it, the question posed by the hon. Leader of the Opposition is related to your statement, especially to the extent that he has referred to the dispensation of Vitamin C tablets as I understand them. Would you want to shed light on that?


Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, like I said, I would like to do justice to the subject. It is a very comprehensive issue because we are talking about structural, systematic, supply chain and restructuring issues. However, to give the hon. Member comfort as regards to what we are doing to restore confidence in the Zambians, as Minister of Health mandated by His Excellency the President, I am actually doing a lot to restore confidence in the people of Zambia and co-operating partners. Even in my statement, I assured the people of Zambia that the quality of the products that they are getting during this COVID-19 pandemic can be attested by the huge number of recoveries. We have a reduced number of patients who are admitted because of the quality of care that we are giving them. So, I want to assure the hon. Member that irrespective of some happenings in the ministry, it is fully in charge whether through the Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA), Medical Stores Limited (MSL), the health facilities or our Provincial Health Directors to ensure quality health care.


Sir, last week, I toured major health facilities in Zambia such as the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), Levy Mwanawasa University Teaching Hospital, Ndola Teaching Hospital and Kitwe Teaching Hospital. Yesterday, a team of highly specialised clinical staff toured all the COVID-19 centres in the country to ensure that we have standardised care, oxygen and health workers. We actually have to care for the carers or the health workers themselves. So, I want to urge the Zambians to have confidence in the health care staff. Some of the best health staff that we have in this world are from Zambia and people’s lives are being saved.


Mr Speaker, we are going to restore the confidence of the Ministry of Health in the people of Zambia and the co-operating partners. It is the same assurance that I gave the co-operating partners and we are not going to look the other way. When I issue a comprehensive statement, I will table some of the key measures that the ministry is taking. However, I would like to assure the hon. Leader of the Opposition that we are restoring confidence in the Zambians by being very transparent, including regarding the issue of the COVID-19 vaccine which is a very topical issue in Zambia as if there is something to hide. I said there will be no backroom vaccine. Everything will be tabled with the Cabinet and if it gives a go ahead, I will come to this House with information on the COVID-19 vaccine. Zambians are free to debate on the COVID-19 vaccine just like on any other aspect whether it is Vitamin C or the issue of oxygen and any other issue.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Speaker: I will take the last four questions from the hon. Member for Kamfinsa, the hon. Member for Sioma, the hon. Member for Bweengwa and the last intervention will be from the hon. Member for Nkeyema.


Mr Musonda (Kamfinsa): Mr Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister for his comprehensive statement on the state of affairs of Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) in the country. I do not know whether my question will be regarded as having been touched on by the last remarks that the hon. Minister made in response to the question that he just answered. However, I will proceed.


Sir, in the recent past, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced at one of the international news media, Cable News Network (CNN) to be specific, that it was procuring millions of doses of the vaccine to supply to poor countries in the world. In the map that was shown, Zambia was seen to be indicated as one of the poor countries to benefit from the project. My question is: Has the WHO been in touch with our Government? If so, what is our stance? I know that the hon. Minister said that they are still consulting, but have we been approached and what is our stance or will it be known after completing the consultations?


Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, coincidentally, I was actually with the WHO Country Representative in my office this morning before I came to Parliament and we were discussing this same topic. It is the same topic that I have been discussing with all the ambassadors from the EU, USA, China and all the countries that have vaccines. However, there are two mechanisms that Zambia is party to. One is under the WHO and it is called the COVAX Mechanism. Under the COVAX Mechanism, the WHO will only supply vaccines that will carter for 20 per cent of our population leaving out 80 per cent. However, the African Union (AU) also has a mechanism and it announced that it will provide about 4.3 million doses of vaccines to Zambia although there will still be a gap.


Sir, the PF Government is pro-poor, which does not want to leave anyone behind. We do not want to have vaccine apartheid, whereby only a certain section of elites get vaccinated and we leave everyone behind. So, that is why I said that I will take a memorandum to be jointly supported by the Ministry of Finance to Cabinet because we will have to look at a sustainable way to finance the gaps that will remain so that every Zambian irrespective of social status, region or tribe gets access to the COVID-19 vaccine. So, yes, we are engaging very closely with the WHO and other partners. In fact, tomorrow, I am meeting all the co-operating partners in Zambia and this will be a very topical issue. We are on top of the game and we will make progress.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Ms Subulwa (Sioma): Mr Speaker, a number of concerns have been raised by the community both in rural and urban areas such as inadequate medical staff. Right now, our staff are overwhelmed. An example I can give is that of Sioma where we only have one doctor attending to about 47,000 people and we are recording quite a number of Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) positive cases. We also have a challenge in terms of inadequate equipment such as the portable x-ray machines and life support systems. So, all these concerns are raising a lot of anxiety amongst the people, and not forgetting the issue of bed capacity in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in Lusaka at third or second level hospitals. Having raised these issues, what is the ministry doing in the immediate term to address these concerns?


Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, I must assure the hon. Member that we are doing a lot in the immediate term on all the items that she has outlined, including concerning the issue of medical staff and human resource for health. This morning, I had a meeting with the Zambia Medical Association (ZMA) and the Resident Doctors Association of Zambia (RDAZ), of which I am a former National President.


Sir, officials from the Public Service Management Division (PSMD), the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health are already in discussions. As the Ministry of Health, we have made a submission to indicate the number of health workers that we require. Officials from the Ministry of Finance and the PSMD are finalising the actual numbers that we will be supported with. Of course, we are cognisant of the fiscal challenges. The Government cannot employ everyone who wants to be employed, but it is very determined to employ more health workers. Officials from the PSMD and the Ministry of Finance are engaging us closely and very soon, the country will be informed.


   Mr Speaker, the hon. Member also raised the issue of space. When I was appointed Minister of Health three weeks ago, we had a crisis because the Levy Mwanawasa Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) Centre was the only designated centre and it was packed to capacity. I used to receive phone calls even at midnight informing me that people could not be taken into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) because it was too crowded and we had to move very fast. We engaged the men and women in uniform, which led to Maina Soko Military Hospital giving us 100 bed spaces. Right now, only 26 bed spaces are in use and we have excess space, and we have created more space at UTH. Like I said, the number of patients admitted in Lusaka has declined over the past days. That is the trend that we have seen.


Sir, more importantly, we have allowed the private health sector to come into play because managing COVID-19 is not the exclusivity of the public health system. The public health providers in Lusaka, Copperbelt and the other areas are managing many COVID-19 patients. However, at Victoria, Medland, Fairview, Mary Berg and many other hospitals, they are also managing COVID-19 patients. So, I think the issue of space is well taken care of. However, we know that there is a rural-urban imbalance which the hon. Member has alluded to.


Mr Speaker, the Government is looking at health care holistically, not only for COVID-19 alone. While we have COVID-19, the other diseases have not disappeared. We have diseases like Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Tuberculosis (TB), malaria and non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and maternal modalities. So, we are looking at health care holistically. That is why the Government is constructing massive infrastructure, which is unprecedented in the history of Zambia. We are constructing specialist hospitals, district level hospitals and first level referral hospitals. We are also constructing mini hospitals, including in Sioma where a mini hospital has been constructed as well as countrywide. This is because we have recognised that space, health care workers and equipment are cardinal to the provision of quality health services.


   I thank you, Sir.


   Mr Michelo (Bweengwa): Mr Speaker, my question is a rider to Hon. Dr Kalila’s question on why the Government has failed to effect a partial lock down. The hon. Minister interacted with a number of ambassadors from different countries. Is there a country in the world which has managed to reduce the cases of Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic without effecting a partial lockdown?


Mr Speaker: Hon. Minister of Health, I suppose the question was finally posed.


Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, yesterday, I said that there is no one size fits all when it comes to the fight against COVID-19. We have seen countries that had imposed very strict lockdowns over so many months being in a crisis as I speak. Other countries that I will not mention had over 500 deaths per day after the lockdowns. So, there is no one size fits all when it comes to the fight against COVID-19. Yesterday, I said that Zambia and Japan have taken a similar approach. Japan has never had a lockdown, yet it is one of the most developed countries in the world economically. Japan’s approach to COVID-19 is similar to ours. However, COVID-19 is not only a health issue; it is a social and economic issue. So, we have to have a balance of these three aspects.


   Sir, we have seen countries in Europe and other developed countries whose economies almost collapsed. These countries had total lockdowns, but the outcomes are not as impressive as they had hoped. The hon. Member is asking if there is any country that has had reduced cases without effecting a lockdown and an example I can cite is that of Japan. If I cited an African country, then we will start arguing about whether that is the best practice. So, Japan is a good example that we can always refer to and we are engaging very closely with it.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


 Mr Mbangweta (Nkeyema) Mr Speaker, I would like to congratulate the hon. Minister on his appointment. It is nice to see one of us from our block becoming an hon. Minister. I would like to find out from the hon. Minister whether the schools in rural areas like in Nkeyema will benefit from the quality control required to ensure that the rules and regulations are complied with especially that some of the places are hard to get to. Bearing in mind that the people at the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of General Education who are supposed to enforce the regulations have budgetary constraints within their Votes, is there a Vote which has been provided for this programme to make sure that it is ongoing and fully-funded so that the people can get to the areas that they are required to get to?


   Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, I acknowledge the generous remarks by the hon. Member for Nkeyema. The hon. Member said that he is my blockmate and some people are asking which block, but that is a discussion outside Parliament. However, that is on a lighter note.


    Sir, as regards the fight against COVID-19, like I said, there is a comprehensive assessment of schools both in rural and urban areas. Our approach is similar and we are not segregating between urban and rural areas. It is about readiness and complying with the golden rules that we talked about. However, we realise that the hard-to-reach areas, like the name implies, are the hardest to assess because we need mobility to get there and it can take a number of days. Like I said, today, I received an assessment report of over 80 per cent of schools which have been assessed. So, we still have a few schools to assess and these are in hard-to-reach areas. Some schools are on highlands and it is difficult to reach there during the rainy season, but we are going to assess them.


Mr Speaker, I would like to make it clear that the duty to assess the readiness of the schools is not entirely the job of the Ministry of Health. It is also the duty of the Ministry of General Education because it is the owner of the schools, but this goes into play with the multi-sectoral approach, and the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) which I talked about. Yesterday, we were discussing the same issue during a live programme at the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC). A parent called from Chingola and he said that he personally went to inspect a school where he found some issues with adherence. I was very thankful to that parent because that is a model parent. We need PTAs to be very active because it is about protecting our children and teachers. If the parents see that a school is not ready and it is not complying with the guidelines, they should quickly tell us because we will not always be there. We can go and inspect at 0800 hours, but by 1200 hours, there will be something else happening. So, parents are community watchdogs who are supposed to watch over what is happening in society.


   Sir, like I announced, we will not hesitate to close any school that flouts the public health guidelines. Yesterday, we closed a school in one of the areas. The school opened and when we went to inspect it, the guards had fallen. So, to protect the public, we had to close the school and we gave it two or three days to make sure that it is ready. So, that will be the approach. We are living in unusual times. Therefore, we shall take unusual measures.


   I thank you, Mr Speaker.






113. Mr Chali (Nchanga): asked the Minister of Mines and Minerals Development:


  1. which institution was managing the trust fund for the former Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) employees’ terminal benefits, as of September, 2020; 
  2. how much money was in the trust fund as of October, 2020;
  3. whether interest has been accruing to the individual terminal benefits of the retirees; 
  4. if interest has not been accruing, why; and
  5. when the benefits will be paid to the beneficiaries.

The Minister of Mines and Mineral Development (Mr Musukwa): Mr Speaker, Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines-Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) was managing the trust fund for the former Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) employees’ liabilities arising from the service held in trust as of September, 2020.


Mr Speaker, there is no money in the ZCCM Trust Fund as of October 2020.  At the setup of the fund, in 1999 it was understood that funds were to be soured by ZCCM-IH with the assistance of Government.  At inception, the fund was created in name only with no readily available funds due to the liquidity problems with ZCCM-IH at the time.


Mr Speaker, in 2000, the Government of the Republic of Zambia provided a loan in the excess of over US$4 million to ZCCM-IH as funding to the trust.  This money has since been disbursed and exhausted. The ZCCM-IH has from then on been funding the disbursements to qualifying beneficiaries through its yearly budgets.


Mr Speaker, no interest has been accruing to the individual terminal benefits of the beneficiaries as no funds were physically set out in the revolving fund. However, to protect the value of the benefits, the Kwacha equivalent of amounts due was converted to United States Dollar (USD) at privatization and the payments are made at the ruling exchange rates when the amounts fall due.


Mr Speaker, it should be noted that the time frame for when the benefits will be paid cannot be predicted. Benefits are paid in an every three to six months period, depending on the number of beneficiaries qualifying.


Mr Speaker, this is because ex-ZCCM employees only became eligible to be paid benefits held in trust when they resign or are dismissed from employment of either Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) Plc (MCM) or Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) Plc.  Only the ex-ZCCM employees who crossed over to the two mentioned companies are eligible to be paid under the ZCCM Trust Fund when the above two conditions are met.  If they exit employment in any way other than dismissal or resignation, Mopani or KCM pays their benefits accordingly.


I thank you Sir.


Mr Chali: Mr. Speaker, both Mopani Copper Mines Plc and Konkola Copper Mines Plc (KCM) have undergone some transformation. What will now happen to the employees who have crossed over to new companies? In the case of the KCM, are the employees going to get the money after being declared redundant or what plans does Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines-Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) have for them?


Mr Musukwa: Mr Speaker, the Government of the Republic of Zambia is working with stakeholders such as the Mine Workers Union of Zambia (MWUZ), employees, and ZCCM-IH, on various platforms. Both MCM and KCM have structured a system in which benefits which have been accrued by the workers have to be paid as we transition to another platform. This is largely because, as can be seen from the past arrangement when privatization took place, many employees of the former ZCCM actually died without accessing their money because it was put in an entity called a trust fund, which did not have the resources, but was just a structure.


Mr Speaker, this is why, in this process, which we have embarked on at KCM, and MCM, our thrust is to ensure that all the workers’ benefits are paid going forward, so that the new structure does not have liabilities. His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, has further guided that in the process which we have embarked on, the workers’ plight and conditions of service, which they had worked under in the past, are a priority. That is why we have ring fenced, as a priority, these conditions so that once all modalities are put in place, the dues must be paid.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Musonda (Kamfinsa): Mr Speaker, in one of his answers, the hon. Minister indicated that the Government of the Republic of Zambia did provide a loan to the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines-Investments Holdings (ZCCM-IH) in order to inject liquidity in the trust fund. In another answer, he further on went to say that the trust fund had no money. For now, there are still employees of the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) that crossed over to Mopani Copper Mines Plc and Konkola Copper Mines Plc who are still working. In the event of the employees having their contracts terminated or resigning, how is the trust going to pay these benefits to the employees if it has no money?


Mr Musukwa: Mr Speaker, I stated very clearly from my statement that in 2000, the Government of the Republic of Zambia provided a loan facility in excess of over US$4 million because at that time, the demand for payment of these benefits was so huge and ZCCM-IH on its own did not have the capacity. The ZCCM-IH was dealing with a legacy issues of winding up a business. In short, it was a holding company, which was trying to conclude a process.  Yes, the Government moved in to supplement the efforts of the ZCCM-IH.


Mr Speaker, in my statement, I would like to draw the attention of Hon. Musonda to the fact that I have further stated that ZCCM-IH has from then on after depleting the US$4 million been funding disbursement to qualifying beneficiaries through its yearly budgets. That is the process.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Mbangweta (Nkeyema): Mr Speaker, just for clarity, I am not belabouring the point. In simple terms, what we would like to clearly and simply know from the hon. Minister is whether these employees will be paid their terminal benefits on the last day of work so that when they come back the following day, if they will be picked, they start a new page.


Mr Musukwa: Mr Speaker, the process we are undertaking at MCM and KCM is a process of companies that have been in motion. They are not companies that are non-existent. These are companies that have been in motion. The hon. Member of Parliament for Nkeyema understands that companies that have been operating generate challenges in terms of their operations going forward. So, because of that, the Government had to structure an instrument of resuscitating companies so that they can survive. Among our key factors that we have indicated to our partners such as the ZCCM-IH is to ensure that the employees’ benefits are paid. Therefore, I can firmly confirm that our discourse with these partners is to ensure that the benefits of the workers are paid.


In addition, the modus operandi of paying these benefits differs from company to company because they are all sitting at different platforms.  I am sure the hon. Member of Parliament for Nkeyema has heard of structures that have been put in motion at the MCM and KCM. The overriding principle is that all the benefits accrued by the employees must be paid. That is what the Government wants to ensure is done.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Mr Speaker: The last question will again come from the hon. Member for Nchanga.

Mr Chali: Mr Speaker, I would like to thank His Excellency the President and indeed, the hon. Minister for the gesture of ensuring that all the miners are getting their money. Could the hon. Minister give an indication as to when the money will be paid to the miners? In the KCM scenario, the employees have even stated receiving letters of crossing over from KCM to the new company. Could the hon. Minister indicate, if he knows, when the employees will be paid?


 Mr Musukwa: Mr Speaker, yes indeed, I also want to put it on record my profound gratitude to His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu who has guided the ministry, ZCCM-IH and, indeed, the investors at KCM and MCM to prioritise the plight of the workers in terms of the payment of the benefits.


Sir, at the KCM, the process has started and we are hoping once everything is put in motion with all the formalities in terms of the legal processes of the formation of these new entities and structures, our workers will be paid as a matter of priority.


 I thank you, Mr Speaker.



114. Mr Mutaba (Mwandi) asked the Minister of Health:


  1. whether the Government has any plans to procure an X-ray machine for   Mwandi Mission Hospital in Mwandi District;
  2. if so, when the plans will be implemented; and
  3.  if there are no such plans, why. 


The Minister of Health (Dr Chanda): Mr Speaker, I wish to inform the House that the Government has plans to procure X-ray machines for public health facilities countrywide. Further, Mwandi Mission Hospital in Mwandi District is expected to benefit from this Government intervention.


Sir, the procurement of X-ray machines will be implemented once funds are made available. As stated earlier, the Government has plans to procure X-ray machines. Therefore, the question at (c) falls off.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.


Dr Imakando (Mongu Central): Mr Speaker, I would like to know whether there is a criteria Government follows in distributing X-ray machines. Is there some criteria the Government follows or is it just by chance?


Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, there is no chancing on anything because if the hon. Member came to the ministry, he would find infrastructure and equipment plans.  Everything is well planned. However, due to limited resources, we cannot cover every facility at a go. Instead, things are done in a phased approached. Some facilities will come earlier than others. It is similar if one wants to find out how we buy equipment for a tertiary hospital or a first level hospital. We, sometimes, make those decisions based on the catchment population. So, there is no chancing because everything is planned for and is carried out in a phased manner.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


 Mr Mandumbwa (Mulobezi): Mr Speaker, I would like to thank you for according me the chance to pose a question.


Sir, like many other hospitals in the country, Mwandi Mission Hospital has no X-ray machine. Hospitals that have acquired new X-ray machines have no lead glass to make them function well. Does the ministry have plans to supply lead glasses for the X-ray machines that don’t have them in order to make them function well? If so, when is the ministry going to do that?


 Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, it all comes down to the issue of service contracts. How are we managing the service contracts? This is the reason hon. Members might have seen me going round the facilities to look at equipment at various levels of health care, whether the highest health institutions or not. The equipment can be there, but the management of service contracts determines whether it is functional or not.


Sir, in one of my tours, I stated that we do not want health facilities to become museums, where we pack equipment which is not working. So, I would like to assure the hon. Member for Mulobezi that we are aggressively looking at that issue. In fact, the issue of equipment in our health facilities, starting from the lowest to the highest, is one of the key issues we are even working on with the co-operating partners. I am actually engaging every co-operating partner in Zambia on the issue of equipment so that places like Mwandi and many other health facilities in the country can benefit, both, from Government support and from the support of our co-operating partners.


 I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Mr Mutaba: Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. Minister for his response.


Sir, the people of Mwandi have noted that the Government has plans to procure an X-ray machine. Could the hon. Minister give a specific time frame when this will be done. Is it in the second quarter of this year or next year or 2026? Maybe, that will be of help.


 Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, what we say at midday is what we say at midnight. I do not want to make assurances that will not reflect the situation. Like I have said, equipment, just like human resources for health, drugs and commodities are top on the list of the Ministry of Health. These are on top of lists of the issues we are discussing and the engagements we are having with either the Ministry of Finance or our co-operating partners.


Sir, I would not want to give deadlines because a deadline has two words, which are dead and line. When you cross the line, you are dead. So, I can assure the people of Mwandi that we are considering their issue very much. I will personally be visiting the Western Province very soon to give the assurance that their issue is on top of the list. More importantly, I also urge the hon. Member for Mwandi to engage me directly as a colleague so that together, we can look at these issues.


 I thank you, Mr Speaker. 


Dr Malama (Kanchibiya): Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. Minister for the response and also commend him for having his boots on the ground such as on the Copperbelt Province, in Lusaka Province and we are now talking about the Western Province.


Sir, Mwandi is about 120 km from Livingstone and the population is 33,000. Would the ministry consider putting a potable X-ray machine in Mwandi as it is waits for that X-ray to become operational so that the people of Mwandi could be serviced? As Patriotic Front (PF) Party, we would like to see all people being serviced without leaving anyone behind.


Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, like I said, the Government is looking at the bigger picture, which is a comprehensive picture. We are not looking at this or that facility. Ideally, we would want all facilities to have portable X-ray machines, functioning laboratories, functioning equipment and should be well staffed. Like I said, the ministry has a plan. While we have these plans for Mwandi and every other facility, I want to say that we are looking at the issue from a bigger picture approach, but the people of Mwandi should be assured that they are part of that comprehensive approach for all facilities to benefit from this Government’s support. So, the answer is yes, we will consider putting portable X-rays, portable oxygen machines and any other equipment, as resources allow, in the area.


 I thank you, Mr Speaker. 


 Mr Speaker: The last question will be from the hon. Member for Mumbwa.


Mr Nanjuwa (Mumbwa): Mr Speaker, –


Mr Michelo: On a point of order, Sir.


Mr Speaker: A point of order is raised.


Mr Michelo: Mr Speaker, I rise on a very serious point of order. I am a representative of the humble and good people of Bweengwa Parliamentary Constituency, who are mostly discriminated and segregated against. Talking about the independence of Zambia without mentioning Bweengwa, which houses Samu Lya Moomba in Monze, is incomplete.


Sir, the Republican Vice-President recently came to Bweengwa about seven weeks ago and promised the people of Bweengwa that the Government was going to work on the Monze/Niko Road. In the last four years, I have been talking about the same road. I have also been going to the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development over the same issue. At some point, the hon. Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Development told me that, “My friend, if I work on that road, the President is going to fire me.” I have also been to the Road Development Agency (RDA) several times talking about the same road. I rose on a point of order last October to talk about that road and mentioned that it would become impassable. Right now, the Monze/Niko Road is –


Mr Speaker: Order!


Hon. Member for Bweengwa, before you proceed, you have drawn in the Office of the Republican President and if you consult the Members’ Handbook, you will notice that you are not permitted to bring in the Office of the Republican President in the fashion that you have done. In any case, it will not be fair anyway to make such insinuations when he may not even have an opportunity to state his side of the story. So, can you withdraw the reference to the assertion that indeed such a conversation took place with the Republican President.


Mr Michelo: Mr Speaker, I withdraw that statement. Allow me now to go ahead with my point of order.


Mr Speaker: Thank you.


Mr Michelo: Mr Speaker, this time around, the Monze/Niko Road is cut into three parts. Right now, people are not able to go to Monze to access medical services because the road is impassable. Therefore, is Her Honour the Vice-President in order to remain silent and not come on the Floor of this House to tell the nation why the Patriotic Front (PF) Government has failed to work on the Monze/Niko Road? This is the main road in that area and it has economic significance. So, why is the PF Government not working on it?


Mr Speaker: My ruling is that this is one of the many instances when points of order are inappropriately raised. There are a lot of issues in this country that are being attended to. If you would like to hold your hon. Colleagues on the right to account for whatever a statement, an assurance or promise was made, we have facilities here at Parliament. Those facilities include asking questions. So, if you would like the Office of Her Honour the Vice-President to account for the state of that road or, indeed, any inaction that you may be alleging, you can simply approach the Office of the Clerk with a question and she will in turn refer it to Her Honour the Vice-President. Her Honour the Vice-President will duly respond to you. It is inconceivable to expect that Her Honour the Vice-President or, indeed, any other hon. Minister would be conjecturing that they need to break their silence on this or any other matter. That is why these facilities such as asking questions are available. That is my ruling.


The hon. Member for Mumbwa may continue.


Mr Nanjuwa: Mr Speaker, I also wish to congratulate the hon. Minister for his appointment as the new hon. Minister of Health. From the hon. Minister’s response, it is good news for the people of Mumbwa to hear that the Government is procuring X-ray machines. However, has the process of procurement begun or is it yet to start? If it is yet to start, when does the hon. Minister think the procurement of these X-ray machines will begin?


Dr Chanda: Mr Speaker, I thank the hon. Member for Mumbwa for his gracious comments and I should mention that I have worked with him very well in terms of addressing the plight of the flood victims in Mumbwa when they had no water supply after the devastating floods that occurred there.


Sir, the issue of procurement was addressed in my answer to part (b) of the question. I said the procurement of X-ray machines will be implemented once funds are made available. So, the procurement process has not started because funds are not yet available.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.








Mr Belemu (Mbabala): Mr Speaker, I beg to move that this House do adopt the Report of the Committee on Energy, Water Development and Tourism on the Report of the Auditor-General on the Performance of the Tourism Sector in Ensuring an Increase in the Length of Stay of International Tourists for the period 2015 to 2019 for the Fifth Session of the Twelfth National Assembly laid on the Table of the House on Tuesday, 19th January, 2021.


Mr Speaker: Is the Motion seconded.


Mrs Chinyama (Kafue): Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.


Mr Belemu: Sir, before I proceed, let me apologise in advance because it is raining heavily where I am and hopefully I will be audible enough.


Mr Speaker, pursuant to its terms of reference, the Committee considered the Report of the Auditor-General on the Performance of the Tourism Sector in Ensuring an Increase in the Length of Stay of International Tourists for the period 2015 to 2019. Allow me now to highlight some of the salient features contained in the Auditor-General’s report.


Sir, one of the critical findings is the decreased number of days that international tourists spent in Zambia during the period under review. The average length of stay for international tourists decreased from six days in 2015 to four days in 2019. If allowed to continue, this trend poses a threat to the growth of the tourism sector in Zambia. However, the Committee came across an interesting phenomenon in the Auditor-General’s report that while the length of stay has been going down, the other matrix of tourism measurement such as international tourist arrivals showed growth from 931,782 in 2015 to 1.2 million in 2019. This could be an indicator that tourists are interested in visiting Zambia as a tourist destination, but there are some impediments when it comes to spending more time in the country.


Mr Speaker, the stakeholders who appeared before your Committee submitted that Zambia’s tourism sector is faced with stiff competition within the region in terms of attracting and retaining tourists as a result of non-competitive costs and pricing of tourism products. Generally, Zambia is considered an expensive tourist destination due to among other things, the high cost of Jet A1 fuel. This is in addition to the expensive accommodation, visa fees, landing costs and departure fees among other issues.


Sir, in light of the above, the Committee recommends that the Government should review the strategies used to promote longer periods of stay for international tourists. The Committee further urges the Government to seriously review the cost structure of the tourism industry in Zambia. The Committee further observes that tourists’ destinations in Zambia are not easily linked thereby making it difficult for tourists to connect from one destination to another within the country. The Committee, therefore, urges the Government to accelerate the implementation of plans to link circuits especially the southern and northern circuits.


Mr Speaker, the other matter encountered by the Committee has to do with the measurements associated tourism activities including statistics on the length of stay, economic contribution of tourism and tourism stem. The Committee notes that while the Government adopted the Tourism Satellite Account Framework as a measurement tool, there has been an inordinate delay in implementing or operationalising it. In this regard, the Committee urges the Government to accelerate the implementation of the Tourism Satellite Account.


Sir, the Committee notes that the Northern Circuit is endowed with abundant and pristine natural resources that have the potential to turn the area into a lucrative tourism hub. However, the Committee is concerned at the slow pace at which investments and infrastructure development are being undertaken in the Northern Circuit. The Committee urges the Government to prioritise infrastructure development especially road, air travel and accommodation facilities to attract more tourists and investment.


Mr Speaker, some stakeholders submitted that the budgetary allocation towards marketing for the tourism sector was low and that the Tourism Development Fund was not being administered in line with the provision of the Tourism and Hospitality Act, 2015. The method of disbursement under this fund was not programme oriented, but on a project by project basis. This negatively impacted on planning and prevented entities from effectively budgeting for a particular quantum or funding from the fund at the beginning of the year. Thus, the Committee urges the Government to adequately fund the Zambia Tourism Agency to enable it perform its functions effectively. The Committee further urges the Government to review the operations of the Tourism Development Fund to ensure adherence to the provisions of Section 6 (1) of the Tourism and Hospitality Act so that entities can access funds without any encumbrances.


Sir, the Committee observed with concern the lack of diversified tourism products in Zambia. Most of Zambia’s tourism products or potential was skewed towards wildlife at the expense of other tourism products. This has posed challenges in efforts to attract and retain tourists. The Committee, therefore, recommends that the Government should provide incentives for the development and promotion of tourism products based on the uniqueness of the tourism development areas as enshrined in the Zambia Tourism Master Plan 2018-2038. The Committee is further concerned that there is inadequate promotion of certain tourism products like visual arts, culture and heritage sites. The Committee in this vein recommends that the Government should devise a robust tourism marketing strategy that incorporates all tourism products including visual arts and heritage sites among others so as to maximise the sector’s potential.


Mr Speaker, during its deliberations the Committee learnt of the challenges that both local and foreign investors faced in their quest to participate in the tourism sector. Most stakeholders lamented the huge financial outlays required to invest in the sector. For instance, scrutiny fee for a standalone structure on a 1,500 sqm piece of land on the lake front of Lake Bangweulu was about K30,000. In addition, the numerous licences and scrutiny requirements discourage meaningful investment in the sector. The Committee, therefore, urges the Government to urgently review the start-up requirement in the tourism sector with a view to easing the process for prospective investments.


Sir, in conclusion, the Committee is grateful to you and the Clerk of the National Assembly for the guidance and support rendered to it during the consideration of the Report of the Auditor-General. The Committee also appreciates the witnesses who it interacted with. With these remarks, I urge all the hon. Members to support and adopt the report of the Committee.


Mr Speaker, I beg to move.


Mr Speaker: Does the seconder wish to speak now or later?


Mrs Chinyama: Now, Sir.


Mr Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to second the Motion moved by my colleague the hon. Member of Parliament for Mbabala, Mr Ephraim Belemu, who has done so well in outlining the key findings of the Report of the Auditor-General on the performance of the sector as well as the issues that were brought to the attention of our Committee as we interacted on the audit findings. However, I wish to note that the findings, for instance, pertaining to the low budget to the tourism sector and the inadequate support of the Zambia Tourism Agency and the association, are issues that have been discussed recurrently on the Floor of the House. My fear is that for how long are we going to continue talking about this without the situation on the ground changing so that we can benefit from the economic advantages that the sector can bring if well supported?


Sir, our Committee noted that while the greatest proportion of revenue for the tourism sector is derived from international tourism, we came to a realisation that the country needs to devise strategies to also boost domestic tourism. We have learnt big lessons at the onset of the Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-10) pandemic because this has adversely affected the inflow of tourists in our country. So, this means that the income that was being generated from the sector has been lost and domestic tourism would have played a key role in mitigating against income losses and the negative impact that the pandemic has had on the sector. It has been a pity to witness lodges close down completely, having experienced this in the lower Zambezi where we have quite a number of tourism activities that go on within my constituency. So, we have had a firsthand experience of seeing what this pandemic has done.


Mr Speaker, we do acknowledge that the Government has tried to put in place measures and incentives to try and cushion the impact in the sector. However, due to the issues of low funding, we learnt that Zambia Tourism Agency (ZTA) and Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) are not adequately supported to go out there to disseminate information so that the players in the sector can benefit from incentives that the Government has put in place. This makes that noble effort to be an exercise in futility because the whole package of incentives has to be offered and related to other mechanisms so that everything can operate very well.


Sir, one of the factors which we learnt does not support our tourists to stay for a long time is that most insurance companies do not provide health cover for them. When the tourists fall sick, it becomes a challenge, so they would rather go to where their health will be well taken care of if they fall sick.


Sir, the other recommendations coming through the Committee are that there is need to put up some kind of mini hospitals in these far-flung areas, especially where we have tourism activities. This will enable our tourists and, indeed, the local communities to benefit from such facilities.


Mr Speaker, I am reminded of the assurance which the former Minister of Health made for the Lower Zambezi National Park where a mini hospital is supposed to be constructed. I hope that the new hon. Minister will take that up because I think we were at the verge of getting this mini hospital to be constructed. You can see that if this is done –


Mr Speaker: Order!


The hon. Member’s time expired.


The Minister of Tourism and Arts (Mr Chitotela): Mr Speaker, I want to note that the recommendation of the Committee on Energy, Water Development and Tourism that was tasked to look at increasing the length of stay for the international tourists in the country is cardinal. The Government has acted on some of the things that are being noted in the Auditor-General’s report, such as the suspension of Value Added Tax (VAT) on fuel. This includes tax on Jet A1 fuel that is used by the aircrafts that bring our tourists.


   Mr Speaker, we are working to ensuring that we open up the Northern Circuit. In October or November, last year, we saw His Excellency, the President, launching the construction of the convention centre in Samfya with the view of increasing the length of stay for our tourists. As you may be aware, the tourism industry in Zambia is more dependent on wildlife. As our tourists get to view the beautiful Victoria Falls in the Southern Circuit, we also want them to view the animals, and experience viewing the white sandy beaches along Samfya Beach and Kasaba Bay.


   Mr Speaker, we have embarked on the restocking programme of the Northern Circuit. We believe that the tourists must have different tourism packages for them to stay longer. The tourists will need to view a variety of things. We are also upgrading the Kasaba Bay so that it can also act as a tourism attraction centre. We have just finished upgrading the David Livingstone Memorial Site in Chitambo, which awaits the official opening by His Excellency, the President.


   Mr Speaker, as the Government, we are determined to the lowering of the cost of doing business in the tourism sector bearing in mind that it is a sector that has been greatly affected. That is why last year, we saw the Minister of Finance in the budget speech reduced the Corporate Tax to 15 per cent from 35 per cent. This was because we know that business communities always want to pass on the cost to the consumer, even in terms of the taxing cost. No business person would want to pay tax, instead, they would want to pass it on to the consumer hence building it into the cost structure.


   Mr Speaker, we have also seen the suspension of VAT and Import Duty on all the vehicles, which are used for the purpose of tourism activities. These would be luxury and Rosa buses, and vehicles that are used for site seeing tourism. Therefore, we hope that as we embark on the aggressive campaign for domestic tourism, our people in Zambia must take advantage and invest in the tourism sub-sector because the sub-sector is largely driven by our friends who come from other countries. We are looking forward to seeing Zambians taking control of the tourism sub- sector in Zambia.


Mr Speaker, we are also looking forward to seeing Zambians managing their wildlife sanctuaries, game ranches and different facilities, bearing in mind that Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) also gives an incentive for investment in the rural areas where we would bring in equipment without paying any duty. Therefore, we want to encourage everyone that when we invest heavily in the tourism sub-sector, the law of supply and demand will come in to play. The cost of doing business in the tourism sub-sector will reduce.


  Mr Speaker, I want to acknowledge and thank the Committee Chairperson and also acknowledge the recommendation of the Auditor-General. As the Government, we are working on the recommendations in ensuring that we become more attractive. In that way, we can increase the length of stay by both our international and domestic tourists.


   I thank you, Mr Speaker.


The Minister for Northern Province (Mr Bwalya): Mr Speaker, indeed the findings of your Committee are to the larger extent, up to the point. As Northern Circuit, we welcome those findings and we agree that there is quite a lot that needs to be done in terms of ensuring that the country begins realising the largest portion of international revenue from the local tourism and, indeed, the international tourists.


Mr Speaker, it is all true that the pace at which we are moving to ensure that we develop the northern tourism is indeed not as impressive as we would want it to be. However, there are quite a number of things that have happened which the Government has acknowledged. Not only within the confines of our boundary as a country, neither is it only in the African continent, but it is internationally that this particular sector of the economy called the tourism sector has been badly affected because it is largely to do with the movement of people. 


Mr Speaker, for as long as people are not moving and visiting certain natural tourist attractions, it means that the flow of income in this particular sector will definitely be negatively affected. Talking of Northern Province, as the Government, we have Chishimba Falls; they are very beautiful falls. It is a magnificent thing and therefore, it requires a lot of marketing. When they say the market share in terms of the budget allocation, we agree. Due to the competing needs of the Government, it is important that we try as much as possible to encourage the local businessmen to engage themselves in ensuring that we, as a country, develop these tourism sites.


Sir, we have Kalambo Falls which is in Northern Province, in Mbala District. Sir, as you may know Kalambo Falls is shared with our neighbouring country, Tanzania. We have now electrified that area because we want to improve its potential and bring in many people who can be attracted to its potential. Therefore, what was not being used, envisaged or seen can now be seen because power has been provided. 


Mr Speaker, we are also looking at the issue of upgrading the Chishimba Falls area. The Ministry of Energy is also working very hard in ensuring that we actualize that particular pledge. In fact, I do know that the Germany Government has been helpful in this regard. We only hope and trust that the consultant can be engaged quickly.


Mr Speaker, all these efforts by the Government are aimed at ensuring that we accelerate the development of the tourism sector in order to actualise the potential that lies within the Northern Circuit. So, when your Committee makes those recommendations, we are happy as the Government and we receive them. That is as it should be in order for all of us to work together to bring the potential in certain areas that has not yet been actualized.


Mr Speaker, if you look at Kasaba Bay, which is also within Nsama District, in Nsumbu, Northern Province, you will notice that it has a lot of potential and its airstrip needs to be refurbished. This is what we, as the Government is working on.


Sir, for the information of certain individuals that may have missed it, during the Northern Province Expo, we had quite a number of pledges of prospective investors who would like to come and invest in Kasaba Bay.


 Mr Speaker, we have African Eagles who by now has received a letter from the Ministry of Tourism and Art permitting it to go ahead with the investment after ensuring that it follows all the process as required by law.  As we speak, we were supposed to have had a scoping meeting with the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA). Now, because of the Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19), that meeting was pushed to 26th March, 2021. So, we are hoping that once that meeting takes off, it will pave way for further investments, so that African Eagles which has suggested that it would like to invest in a five star hotel in Kasaba Bay is able to come through after completing the environmental impact assessment.


Mr Speaker, all these things we are putting together are aimed at ensuring that the Northern Circuit is opened up by the Government. The Patriotic Front (PF) wants as many people as possible to get involved in the Northern Circuit.


The hon. Minister’s time expired.


Mr Speaker: Order!


Dr Malama (Kanchibiya): Mr Speaker, first and foremost, I would like to commend the Committee for the good job done and the Government for being ready to meet the challenges that the Committee has highlighted. When you talk about infrastructure development, you will note that the Patriotic Front (PF) Government has really embarked on massive infrastructure development, which is an answer to what the Committee is talking about. Therefore, you would be able to see that the length of stay will move from the current depth albeit the Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19). The infrastructure development right from the airport in Lusaka, Livingstone and Ndola is proving very worthwhile. Let me just encourage the Government to actualize that development, as the road network is being built in the districts, airstrips must also be provided for so that the infrastructure development for both air and roads is dealt with.


Mr Speaker, I would also like to commend the Government for setting up the marine unit in the military to reinforce the security on our water bodies, which is a key sector in tourism. We have seen that international organisations are identifying Zambia as a key player. Look at how wonderful the King Lewanika Hotel that has been built in the Liuwa is. Come to my constituency in Kanchibiya also and set up a very wonderful hotel for people to stay longer and feel comfortable.


Mr Speaker, I encourage the Government to work on the Kabinga Road. When you look at Kabinga, it is a peninsula, with beautiful land and beautiful boating facilities, which if worked on can encourage people to camp there.


Mr Speaker, I would also like to thank the Government because it has worked on communication, which is key to the sector. Communication has improved in many areas in Zambia.


Mr Speaker, as regards health services, mini hospitals are being built.  The Government is for sure responding to the needs of the people. Therefore, in Kanchibiya, we are grateful for the support of the Government. Through the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), we have put up six rural health centres and the Government is helping us with a mini hospital in Kopa and Chiunda Ponde. I encourage the Government to actualize the putting up of a mini hospital in Kabinga, a peninsula as I have said which is of great potential for tourism in the Bangweulu wetlands. That mini hospital, when put up, will reinforce the health service provision that the Committee has recommended.


Mr Speaker, let me also comment on the issue of security and the recruitment of more officers, as I have commended the putting up of the marine unit by the military. For us in Kanchibiya, we are putting up five Constituency Development Fund supported police stations in each of our five chiefdoms. Looking at security, people would feel comfortable to stay. Once the southern and northern circuits are provided for and the way we see the PF working, Zambia will soon benefit much more from the tourism sector.


Mr Speaker, I would also like to thank the hon. Minister of Tourism for the great work that the ministry is putting in to see to it that tourism in Zambia grows. I think that is the way it should be. Tourism in Zambia is being recognized. In fact, Zambia was chair not too long ago. Probably, it is still the chair in Africa, and we have been going around the globe, talking about the prominent role which the country has been playing in the sector. I think it is a good job that is being put up. Let us continue with infrastructure development. However, my last word is that let us also attend to the airstrips in districts where we are working on roads.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Belemu: Mr Speaker, at least, I have not heard any view that is against your Committee’s Report. Therefore, my task is just once more to urge the hon. Members to adopt the report of your Committee. On a lighter note, unless my tablet was not telling me the truth, I have not heard anything different from what the Committee’s report recommended.


I thank you, Sir.


Question put and agreed to.





The Vice-President (Mrs Wina): Mr Speaker, I beg to move that the house do now adjourn.


Question put and agreed to.




The House adjourned at 1650 hours until 1430 hours on Thursday, 4th February, 2021.