Shangula’s honesty deserves applause

22 May 2020 | Opinion

Despite his obvious flaws, health minister Kalumbi Shangula has carried himself as a true professional during this challenging time of the coronavirus, especially from a media point of view.

It is within politicians’ DNA the world over to peddle as many lies as possible to cover their backsides when things go wrong.

Shangula, formerly a permanent secretary in the same ministry, was plucked from retirement to lead the portfolio that faces a mountain of challenges, compounded by government’s acute shortage of financial resources.

While those problems have not faded with Shangula’s arrival, the minister’s openness in relation to the current coronavirus pandemic has been a breath of fresh air.

Journalists have been able to easily access him for comment, clarity or confirmation of facts related to this virus – even at odd hours.

True, we are deeply annoyed that under Shangula, the health ministry continues to fail to contain the spread of hepatitis E – which has infected 600 people since the dawn of 2020 – but that is not entirely under his powers.

The provision of potable water and ablution facilities to poorer communities where hepatitis E is exclusively confined is a duty of other government portfolios.

We are encouraged by Shangula’s sense of humility, which includes being willing to admit mistakes made in the handling of the coronavirus.

For example, when several contacts of people infected with the virus could not be traced and thus posed a danger for further infections, Shangula publicly owned up to this fumble.

His peers can extrapolate a thing or two from his style of leadership.

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