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Show good neighbourliness

APART from President Edgar Lungu’s message of condolences and pledge to help victims of Cyclone Idai in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, most other Zambians have done little to live up to good neighbourliness.
Zambia shares boundaries with the three countries which have suffered loss of lives and extensive displacement of thousands of people.
There are several ways in which Zambia is expected to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
By now, Zambia should have held prayers of solidarity for Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe while all sportsmen should have been asked to wear black armbands during games in remembering those who have died.
Apart from donating clothing, food and medicines, Zambians can also give in kind by providing manpower (soldiers, policemen and health personnel) and equipment such as helicopters and vehicles to alleviate the burden of the neighbours, whom the country also collaborates with in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa as well as the African Union.
Some countries have responded much more quickly to the call for help and supplies are already being delivered to ease the impact of the cyclone, which has reportedly affected over 1 million people.
The SADC block, which is closest to the disaster, seems to be pedestrian in its response to the three member countries.
The region can certainly do better. Understandably, most countries in the region do not have the kind of financial muscle economic giants like the United States and the United Kingdom have.
It is also true that some countries in the region are already grappling with respective challenges to ease the impact of adverse weather on citizens.
Africans are, however, known for their support for each other even in lean times such as these when, in the case of Zambia, floods and drought have adversely affected agricultural production. The little that is available in the better-off countries can be shared.
The floods and drought challenge in Zambia is, however, comparatively much more manageable than the ravages of the cyclone, which has literally overnight left thousands of people without food, shelter, clothing and medical services.
It is not too late to help these victims of the cyclone. It is estimated that it will take many months to restore normalcy in some of the settlements, especially in the port city of Beira in Mozambique.
The office of the Vice-President has appealed to the private sector, business community and other stakeholders to partner with Government in assisting the countries that have been affected by Cyclone Idai.
The three affected countries have appealed to SADC member states and the international community for financial and material assistance.
Zambians should collectively heed this SOS. Citizens, as individuals, the corporate world and religious organisations should join the ongoing relief efforts, in solidarity with the governments and peoples of Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe to mitigate the impact of this catastrophe.
Citizens have an opportunity to arise and contribute to this cause. No amount of money or quantity of material is too little. Every donation adds to the big picture.
As a Christian nation, Zambia has an opportunity to walk the talk and demonstrate the love for neighbours.
Christians should be encouraged by Matthew 25:40, which says “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’.”
Matthew 22: 39-40 “And the second [commandment] is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. [40] On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Well done to companies that have led the way in making the initial donations. Let others step forward, too.
Zambias must demonstrate compassion for their brothers and sisters who need help like yesterday in the three countries.