Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Zambia's 'BEEF' with Zambeef

Oh here we go again; Zambian companies just refuse to stay clear of scandal. After the Zambeef revelations of last week where we found out that some of the imported products contained embalming corpse chemicals, the company had a lot of explaining to do. This whole saga almost feels like hearing your girlfriend confess that she has been cheating on you with the neighbour only after you caught them in bed.  Yes Zambeef have a lot of explanation to do to Zambia and I am waiting.

At the moment I refuse to be thrown into drawing early conclusions as some people have done. If there is anything that I have come to understand especially about the urban Zambian is that we are so hungry for scandals. We love scandals and we seem to enjoy squeezing out every juicy bit that there is of any rumour that is thrown our way. We devour everything that the media websites throw at us and we do not bother to critically analyse the information before us. It was not long ago that we were almost lynching Clive Chirwa only for the poor man to be found with no case or the Zambia Sugar issue. I bet Zambia Sugar is breathing a sigh of relief the attention has been removed from them for now.

So far from what I have gathered, the embalming chemical used is called Aromatic Aldehydes. It has a number of functions in pharmaceutical and plastics industries, for flavouring and as an ingredient in some dyes. Another use is that for embalming corpses, and this is where Zambeef are being taken to task. Zambeef are believed to be using the aromatic aldehydes on their import products; these by the way are hooves and offals popularly known as vimbombo and chiff. This meat is apparently thrown away in Europe and America, hence, Zambeef are able to get these products nearly free. Reports are that in order for this meat to be kept fresh the embalming chemical is used. Oh how I love my occasional vimbombo, what’s a brotha supposed to do now. Are goat hooves edible? The argument may also be that if these products are rejected what assurance is there that the highest hygiene is taken when preparing them for import.

Zambeef have blamed this whole affair on a disgruntled employee who ratted them out, as well as the percentage of the imported meat is small to be too concerned about. Is the small percentage supposed to be comforting? The underlying thing here is that there is something in the imported meat that we were not made aware of as consumers. Frankly, that is where I feel the betrayal as a Zambeef faithful is coming from. If I was made aware that aromatic aldehydes were added to the liver that I bought or the vimbombo that I gluttonously devoured, I might have just reconsidered my purchase. The mere fact that the packaging does not indicate this is a flaw on the part of Zambeef. As to the side effects on the chemical used, the fact that it may cause cancer is not conclusive enough evidence for me. I need someone to show me some research done and not just assumptions. Cancer can be caused in many ways; the very air we breathe can give us cancer. The health authorities need to provide more concrete evidence on the ultimate outcome of aromatic aldehydes. This should not be about scaring people from buying Zambeef products

For now, Zambeef have a tough time convincing the bunch of protestors on Facebook, Twitter and the Letters to the Editor in the papers. I wonder why we never carry placards and go scream in front of Zambeef stores. The only time people are passionate protestors is when it comes to salary increments, it’s a shame. Until the health authorities come back with conclusive results of their tests, I will not be boycotting Zambeef products entirely. I will just be taking a critical look at the next vimbombo that I devour. I would propose Zambeef start labeling their products either as imported or local. This is a good time to buy Zambeef shares by the way.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Is God a Chipolopolo Fan?

A few days after the Chipolopolo draw, I have to think of happy thoughts just to avoid shedding a tear. The equaliser from Sudan sucked the joy that had hovered over the nation. Before I enter into my second depression let me leave this subject for now. The draw left me wondering what happened to the prayers that were said the Friday night before the game. Maybe our prayers were just not strong enough or have we cared to think that perhaps God does not really care which team wins or loses at the end of the day.

Chipolopolo Fan

This nation has developed a tendency to Christianise almost everything that it does, from Big Brother to subsidies, the rains to hitting the clubs. It should therefore, be no surprise that football has been dragged into this too. I had the opportunity to tune to ZNBC on Friday night and caught the ending of the prayers that took place at Bethel City Church in Ndola. When I saw the Chipolopolo team singing praise songs I thought it was nice of them to recognise God in their lives. I even enjoyed the song they sang and the entertaining dance moves from Fwayo Tembo. Then the honorable Minister of Sport and Youth Chishimba Kambwili took to the podium to give his speech followed by the pastors. From the speeches if you did not know that Zambia was playing Sudan, you would be excused for thinking that we were playing against the devil and his demons the next day.

There were just too many statements along the lines of, “Nothing will stand against us,” and “If God is for us who can be against”, so we had turned Sudan into an enemy who was hindering us from receiving our ‘God-given’ blessing of qualifying for the World Cup. I reckon there was enough binding and losing in that church, oh I love my Christian brothers and sisters. I frankly find such prayers totally unnecessary. What would have stopped Sudan from saying the very same prayers and including, “God give us justice for the three points we lost.” I do not think that God was rooting for either Sudan or Zambia; I think these are way too petty things to worry about. 24 grown men kicking a ball is hardly anything that should require heaven and hell to be shaken over.

Now that we know the outcome of the weekend results what should we be saying? Our prayers on Friday were not powerful enough? Should we have bound the devil tighter? Or was it God’s will that we drew and there was nothing we could have done? Perhaps we should try a national fast next time. This is what I think. We were just not good enough, period. We huffed and puffed on that pitch and not even the passion filled fans in that stadium could roar the boys to victory. There was no spiritual involvement in that defeat and Satan’s demons did not lay booby traps on the pitch, yes that draw felt like a defeat to me.

I am not disputing the power of prayer in the player’s lives and the role it has played in this nation, what I am against is where we make the other teams villains and we turn God into a football fan. The same God we pray to is probably the same God that the people in Ghana, Lesotho and Sudan pray to. And if we are all God’s children why should Zambia be favoured over the rest. So next time Chipolopolo holds another prayer meeting to banish the devil’s weapons against the team do not bother calling me because I will be busy watching Game of Thrones.

I seek to be enlightened, what’s your view?

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Robbed In Front of Police Post

 “When I grow up I want to be a policeman,” that was me some 15 years ago, I still wonder why my mother didn’t smack me in the face for saying that. After watching the action packed TV show Sirens, we all wanted to be police officers. We wanted to carry pistols on our waists, zoom the streets of Lusaka chasing criminals while screaming the magic words “Freeze” and “Anything you say can and may be used against you in the courts of law.” Oh those were the days when we thought being a police officer was a glamourous life, today we know better it isn’t. And recently it has also become embarrassing too.

I am still trying to imagine the scenes of last week in my head, how I wish I was by the Manda Hill Bridge with my box of popcorn while the scenes unfolded. According to media reports, a man who was believed to have withdrawn some big bucks from the bank was being trailed by some robbers. The man drove to the nearby Manda Hill Police Post hoping to find refuge. He packed his car and locked the doors. Then the robbers boldly smashed the rear view mirror with an axe, while another fired shots at the police station and warned the police officers to stay inside. Amazingly the police obeyed and hid for dear life, leaving the poor man to watch as the robbers sped away with his trunk of money.
Now I know the police have already received their share of flack from the public both from well known individuals such as Dr. Manda to the less prominent bus conductors, so give me a chance to come to their defence here. Of the people condemning the police officers for hiding behind the safety of the police station walls, what did you want them to do? Come out, act the hero and get shot. Here in Zambia if you are a coward you live longer, heroes are not celebrated. Let us bear in mind that these are underpaid civil servants who have families and children. If they died all that they would have got would have been a headline in the Daily Mail, condolences and we would have moved on looking forward to the Zambia v Lesotho game. Their families would have suffered the loss.

Let’s face reality here, the police service in Zambia is underfunded and struggling for its own piece of the pie with the rest of the nations other pressing needs such as education, health, infrastructure and others. We must not compare our stations to the plush police stations we see in the movies, the Manda Hill Police Post is not even a station. You can be excused for thinking it’s a car park. I doubt if at all they had adequate fire arms, bullet proof vests, enough man power, so how on earth did we expect them to go toe to toe with the bandits.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, people are saying that they are busy concentrating on traffic offences and harassing bus drivers, but c’mon all a bus driver needs is a slap to put him back in check. Where is the life threatening risk in that? They will still be able to go back to their families. It is like going to the hospital and blaming the doctor because the clinic did not have the x-ray machine, laboratory testing equipment and medicines. In order for a doctor to perform his functions well the equipment must be made readily available. If he does not perform his duties because the necessary resources are not there that does not make him incompetent.

I bet by now you have heard the joke that the police have now hired Armcor Security to protect them. Well at least we are definitely sure Armcor have the resources to defend themselves. In as much as this is an embarrassing situation for the police, we can at least be thankful that no life was lost. It has also become a wakeup call because it has put the police service in the spotlight, and it has been desperately crying for a makeover. I do agree that the police service could definitely be better and they do certain things right but they cannot be blamed for their short coming when they lack resources to work effectively.