The return of golf in Zambia
Some golf courses are now able to reopen in Zambia, following the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

Zambia cancels football league after Covid-19 surge

Kennedy Gondwe

BBC News, Lusaka

A ball in net
Getty Images
The league resumed on 18 July under strict safety measures

Zambia's football association, Faz, has cancelled the domestic league following a spike in Covid-19 cases.

Faz General Secretary Adrian Kashala said the league would end on 6 August by which time all teams would have played 27 rounds of matches.

The league resumed two weeks ago after it was prematurely suspended in March over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

Two sides, Forest Rangers and Napsa Stars, have reported the highest number of Covid-19 cases, with 28 and 19 respectively.

“The recent surge in numbers of Covid-19 occurrences has put a strain on the health system across the board,” Mr Kashala said in a statement.

“One of the major challenges has been the long delays in securing test appointments and results by most of the clubs in the league after being tested, which meant that certain matches could not be played due to the inability of clubs to produce results when called upon to do so."

The Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI) had also noted some lapses, the Faz statement said.

These included a failure by clubs to “manage the isolation of players and officials who had tested positive, unrestricted access to camping sites, failure to observe social distancing and lack of sanitisers and disinfectants at designated places”.

Faz has decided that the 2020/2021 season will now start on 17 October.

Zambia has so far confirmed 5,555 Covid-19 cases with 41 deaths.

Zambian education minister fired amid sex video scandal

Kennedy Gondwe

BBC News, Lusaka

Phone in hand
Getty Images
Zambians have been asked to stop sharing the video

Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu has fired Education Minister David Mabumba with immediate effect.

In a statement released by Mr Lungu’s spokesperson Isaac Chipampe, no reason was given for the dismissal.

However, earlier in the morning, videos of a man who looks like him went viral. The man was naked and masturbating.

Mr Mabumba, who previously also served as energy minister, has neither commented on the videos nor the dismissal.

He has been replaced at the ministry of education by Dennis Wanchinga.

Police say they are investigating the matter while the National Guidance Affairs Minister Reverend Godfridah Sumaili has urged the public to stop circulating the video.

Ms Sumaili has told the local media it is unethical and immoral for people to continue circulating the video.

But that has not stopped the social media frenzy.

Fifteen footballers from one club get coronavirus

Kennedy Gondwe

BBC News, Lusaka

People washing their hands
The club's chairperson urged fans and players to keep their hands clean

Nineteen players and officials have tested positive for Covid-19 at the Zambian premier league club Napsa Stars.

The number is the second highest after Forest Rangers reported 28 positive cases of players and officials two weeks ago.

The 15 players and four officials from Napsa Stars tested positive to Covid-19 after a routine check, club spokesperson Gwen Chipasula said in a statement.

She said all the positive players and officials have since gone into self-isolation in line with the Ministry of Health guidelines.

Ms Chipasula said that the club is in touch with the ministry to ensure that they are closely monitored to avoid the further spread of the virus.

She said that the rest of team has continued with preparations for upcoming fixtures.

The club's chairperson Greg Chola Nsofu, added:

“I would like to make an appeal to our players, the fans and the general football fraternity to adhere to all health measures, including wearing of face masks, social distancing and hand sanitising, among others.”

Zambia has to far reported over 4,481 coronavirus cases and 139 deaths.

Lax laws in Zambia promoting child marriages

Kennedy Gondwe

BBC News, Lusaka

A rights body says poverty could be a factor in driving families to pull their children out of school

The Zambian government should do more to protect schoolgirls who are being married off because learning institutions have been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the director of an umbrella civil society body dealing with womens' rights and gender issues has told the BBC.

Engwase Mwale from Gender Organisations' Coordinating Council (NGOCC) blamed a lack of stringent laws to protect girls.

“There is therefore need to strengthen laws that will stop this scourge. Partly, child marriages have been on the increase because of the conflict in the laws’” Ms Mwale said.

Her comments follows a story in state-owned Zambia Daily Mail quoting Chief Chikanta of the Tonga tribe in Kalomo in the southern region, saying girls between the age of 13 and 17 were being married.

“With the closure of schools due to Covid-19, we have seen a lot of girls trying to go into marriages, they are instead abandoning school and choosing marriage. Just in the past four days, I have received about three elopement cases,” Chief Chikanta said.

The traditional leader said he was engaging the affected families to ensure that the practice is stopped to allow the girls to focus on education.

Zambian mayors suspended to allow for land fraud probe

Kennedy Gondwe

BBC News, Lusaka

Christopher Kang’ombe
Christopher Kang’ombe
Mr Kang’ombe is the mayor of a town in the Copperfield province

The Zambian government has suspended two mayors to pave the way for an audit into land allocation that may have been done illegally.

Lusaka Mayor Miles Sampa and Christopher Kang’ombe of Kitwe town, in the Copperbelt region, have each been suspended for three months, Local Government Minister Charles Banda said at a press briefing on Monday.

All councillors serving under the mayors have also been suspended for the same period.

Mr Banda said the suspension of the two councils is meant to help in the investigation of land allocation irregularities.

“There is no sacred cow in this, we may come back soon if this persists in other councils to do the same... and correct the issues and ensure that things are done in an orderly manner,” Mr Banda said.

Mr Sampa said he had “no comment” when the BBC reached out to him while Mr Kang’ombe did not respond to a similar query.

Mr Sampa posted this picture on his Facebook page after his suspension was announced.

Miles Sampa
Miles Sampa

Covid-19: Zambian MP with HIV tests positive

Kennedy Gondwe

BBC News, Lusaka

Princess Kasune Zulu
Getty Images
Princess Kasune Zulu said she was not surprised by the test results

Zambian MP Princess Kasune Zulu, who is living with HIV and is a prominent Aids activist, has announced that she has tested positive for Covid-19.

Ms Zulu, a member of the opposition United Party for National Development, was tested last Thursday.

Some 15 Zambian MPs have so far tested positive for Covid-19, according to Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya.

Parliamentary sittings have been indefinitely suspended.

Ms Zulu told the BBC that she was not surprised by the test results, partly because Zambia's parliament had initially continued holding sittings despite the rise in coronavirus numbers.“I guess one saw it coming given the laissez-faire attitude we have in Zambia towards the health guidelines, and seeing that at parliament we had continued meeting in person when we should have carried on business from our homes via virtual systems,” she said.

“The lack of adhering to guidelines, the politicisation of issues and lack of leadership at critical time has fuelled the surge in the of Covid-19 in Zambia.”

She encouraged people with existing health conditions to adhere to medication.

Ms Zulu bemoaned Zambia’s slow response to fighting the pandemic.

Zambia has to far reported 4,481 coronavirus cases and 139 deaths.

Zambia to register wheelbarrows in capital

Kennedy Gondwe

BBC News, Lusaka

The authorities in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, plan to register all wheelbarrows used for commercial purposes following a spike in theft of goods.

Wheelbarrow pushers help carry loads around the city at a fee. They are preferred by informal traders who see them as a less expensive way to transport their goods.

Lusaka Mayor Miles Sampa said there have been increased complaints of theft from traders who seek the services of wheelbarrow pushers. He said some operators disappear with the goods.

The mayor was reacting to reports that he wants to introduce a tax for the wheelbarrows.

“The council will register all wheelbarrow businesses for security reasons given increased complaints received in our markets.“It [registration] is therefore meant for accountability and transparency purposes for those conducting the business in our markets and bus stations in the city,” he said.Mr Sampa said there shall be no levy or tax to be paid by wheelbarrow pushers.Wheelbarrow pushers have also been advised to register their wheelbarrows with the Wheelbarrow Association of Zambia.

Questions over Zambian airline's 'virus buster' claim

Peter Mwai

BBC Reality Check

Masked flight attendants wear badges on their lapels
Mahogany Air/Facebook
So-called "protective badges" are being sold around the world and at one time were worn by members of Russia's parliament

A major privately run airline in Zambia has been using unproven badges, which manufacturers claim can offer protection against viruses.

A video posted by Mahogany Air on their Facebook page shows cabin crew wearing the badges.

Mahogany Air claims, without any basis, that the badges have "air-purifying virus buster technology that purifies the air around any passenger or crew member wearing it".

The airline's CEO, Jim Belemu, told the BBC he believed the badges worked and would offer additional protection but there is no evidence they can ward off viruses and bacteria, and some health authorities have issued warnings about them.

Similar devices are being sold around the world and at one time were worn by members of the Russian parliament. Some countries have banned them. In Africa, the president of South Sudan and other senior officials were seen using the badges although a government official told the BBC they later stopped wearing them.

The substance released by such cards or badges - the bleaching agent chlorine dioxide - is potentially harmful. In April, the US Food and Drug Administration said chlorine dioxide products had not been shown to be safe and effective for any use, including against Covid-19.

The agency says the substance, which is a powerful bleaching agent, can cause "serious and potentially life-threatening side effects".

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