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ZambiaAs Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the most renowned infectious disease specialists based in the United States, says: "You don't make the timeline; The virus makes the timeline. This means that the virus will be around for some time, and the impact will continue to be felt in all aspects of life. This is the case with the pastoral ministry of the (Society of African Missions) SMA Fathers in Zambia as well as the economic impact in the country.

 Have you ever heard of Zambia? Well, Zambia is a large landlocked country that covers more than 750,000 square kilometers in South-East Africa. Before independence, Northern Rhodesia was considered the Cinderella of the British colonies, but when Europeans discovered copper in large quantities in the 1920s, it quickly became the belle of the ball. And that is why the answer to the question, "which is the largest copper-producing country in Africa?", remains, "Zambia!".

The SMA fathers arrived in Zambia in 1973. They landed in the Copperbelt, which had been under the Franciscan Conventuals since 1931.

At this point, "if you are not infected, you are affected" by the spread of the novel coronavirus. While some European countries are grappling with how to get out of confinement, many African countries are considering an extension of curfews and lockdown. Zambia has so far confirmed 95 cases of infection. 43 people have been cured and only 3 deaths were recorded as a result of Covid 19. (Keep in mind that these numbers keep changing.)

SMA activities paralyzed

Kaparou

 Like many other countries, Zambia entered lockdown on 30 March. The SMA fathers of the District house also suspended all parish activities. This means that all public masses, parish activities, chaplaincy, schools, and universities have all been closed indefinitely.

Everyone is required to wear a mask in public. Fr. Tom Casey, director of the SMA Media Centre in Zambia, "goes shopping once a week and cycle regularly for fitness sake." As for the staff at the house, he said they were asked to stay home for their safety. The activities of the SMA Media Centre have slowed and its staff has been asked to "stay at home and come only in special circumstances." He added that "one of the staff members stays in the house from Monday to Friday to help cook, clean and do the laundry." Over the weekend, "we manage on our own, but we are lucky to have Fr. Martin O'Farrell who brings us take-away food."

The virus in Zambia which appears to be "fairly contained, came from local expatriate commuters who went out in good health and came back with COVID 19." In order to contain the situation, the government has taken similar measures like other countries by restricting air transport, "in fact, we are stuck here now as it is rare to get flights in and out of Zambia at the moment.

Compared to other African countries such as neighboring South Africa, "the virus seems to be slow to moving." However, "you never know, if it explodes, it could have serious consequences."

The rainy season has just ended and "it's a beautiful time of year with cloudless skies and bright sunshine with temperatures of about 28 degrees Celsius".

The pillar of the Zambian economy attacked by COVID 19

The mining union and the government are unanimous in condemning the decision that will deprive thousands of people of income. The Minister of Mines accused Mopani of using the pretext of the pandemic to lay off workers cheaply. Glencore says it can no longer work due to the disruption of supply chains and the global economic meltdown.

The blow is not only harsh for workers, but it is also for the government, which depends 75% on copper for its external revenues. Zambia's foreign exchange reserves are at an all-time low.

This happens only happens five days after Newmont... the world's largest gold miner, announced on April 9 that it had created a $20 million fund to help host communities, governments and employees fight the Covid-19 pandemic, building on other local contributions and the efforts the company has made over the past month...

The mineworkers and their families are the biggest losers even as the fight against coronavirus continues.

Dominic Wabwireh