By Melvin Chisanga

SHOW ME someone who did not see it coming and I will show you a liar. Before the jeering in Monze, it had for a long time been a case of when, than if, and who would ever do it. With thew political atmosphere in this country heavily pregnant with PF’s bad governance, it surely was just a matter of time before it would give birth to the unfortunate, yet democratically justifiable situation – the Monze booing.

With the feeling of discontentment about the way the PF has been running government literally palpable across the nation, I am shocked and dissapointed to see PF cadres burying their heads in the sand and pretending not to see the socioeconomic havoc that the government Mr. Lungu presides over has wreaked on this country, and reduce the suffering of the masses to mere political rhetoric. This is an insult to the general citizenry of this country because remember that though the problems that are caused by the questionable decisions of politicians in government affect us all, not everyone in this country is a politician.

What happened in Southern Province could have happened anywhere else in this country, but as fate would have it, Monze broke the ice to give the PF even more reason to seek to divide this country on grounds they have always wanted to – tribal lines. Listening to the needless backlash that has followed the Monze booing without facts about the whole situation, one would think the President was physically attacked. It is surprising to see how the entire PF rank and file has, in the wake of this development, taken occasion to add more tension to an already politically charged Zambian atmosphere.

Just to help the PF to stomach this issue that has sent their tongues wagging needlessly, I want to draw their attention to the fact that Mr Lungu is not their personal property that they can seek to defend using cadres and bootlickers. As President, Mr Lungu is a government trophy whose welfare is the responsibility of the institution called the presidency, and it is sacrilegious for anyone to usurp its roles because it has the most secure systems that govern its daily business, of which President Lungu’s security is part.

Seeing that there hasn’t been any report of intended bodily harm to the President, one would wonder the motives of those that are trying to blow this whole situation out of proportion. To whose benefit did even the entire public media stoop so low to carry such a laughable headline as news, if not only to the exposure of its own bias? Whose sympathy are they trying to arouse if not only to trigger unwarranted indignation from the PF rank and file, which is ever searching for a fault in the opposition to quench their thirst for anarchic behaviour?

The saddest and most unfortunate aspect of this kind of behaviour is that it seems to have the blessings of the President himself. There is no more likely patron of this kind of situation than the President himself because no matter how bad it may get, he as President wields the magic wand that can restore peace with a single stroke.

To the contrary, President Lungu has been applying his quiet diplomacy very dangerously for a very long time. Whilst l am a student of the school of thought that believes that a president doesn’t need to respond to, or indeed speak on every topic of public interest, I also believe that there is no hard and fast rule to this belief. The key issue is the President’s own judgement of the prevailing circumstances and his discretion.

Ironically, however, President Lungu has kept quiet even where the situation demanded his voice and vice versa. Without even minding the belief that silence entails tacit consent to whatever could be going on, the President has on most occasions chosen to leave us to speculate his position on many issues, the Monze booing inclusive.

With all the hate speeches motivated by the Monze booing that have dominated our public discourse over the past week, the President must surely have found occasion to show the world the humble leader he is, simply by stopping his followers from uttering all those divisive remarks tainted with tribal undertones in public in the spirit of fostering national peace and unity. But what has the President done instead? Silence.

Did the booing hurt the President to such an extent that he could be enjoying watching his supporters defying the ‘new normal’ rules of social distancing to avenge his ordeal over a packet of popcorn? Looking at the way this booing issue has apparently hurt many, I would suggest that it be included as one of the constitutional amendment clauses to make it punishable. As it stands, it is not a crime but a mere expression of disapproval. Are we not allowed to express our displeasure?

What the President’s supporters should take care not to do is to deny President Lungu the chance to retrospect by drowning this opportunity in their unnecessary protests. In any case, are they not embarrassed to protest against such an innocent man as Hakainde Hichilema? What role did HH play in the booing? Just because it happened in his stronghold? Come on, give him a break! Speaking of strongholds, have those that are busy drawing daggers in the wake of the Monze incident – a democratic rights expression – forgotten what happened in Muchinga Province not long ago?

The double standards which the President has allowed to thrive and become the modus operandi in his government are quite sickening, to say the least. Where was President Lungu when HH was not only booed but also attacked when he went on a radio programme at ISO FM in Isoka? There are more incidents that can be cited where HH has suffered PF cadre attacks without anyone ever drawing boundaries for them anywhere in this country. Why then is the PF trying to make a big issue out of what is even far less than militia acts they have committed against the opposition themselves?

When PF cadres in Shiwang’andu almost brought down a helicopter carrying UPND officials in 2016, no one uttered such abominable and divisive words as they are doing today. What is wrong with the PF leadership that instead of pumping sense into their cadres, they just keep quiet in an expression of tacit agreement with what is going on? They surely do not mean well for this country. No wonder they have been busy pushing the evil Bill 10 agenda so hard that they have been willing to do anything to just see it go through.

When all is said and done about the happenings in this country, the buck stops with President Lungu. For all the violence and hate speech that everyone has been complaining about, Mr Lungu has not acted despite being the solution because he is drawing political capital from the situation. By using cadres to divide this country, President Lungu is assured of his continued stay in power. That is why the nearest he can get to condemning violence and hate speech, when pressured, is to be equivocal about it. Otherwise, it suits him more to keep quiet. These are some, among other things, that the people of Monze were booing, not President Lungu. Even all those speeches like the one given by that senior prisons officer in the heat of the moment were unnecessary.

Though it is too late for President Lungu to make any meaningful changes that could win him next year’s election, it will not be a bad thing for President Lungu to hand over a fairly united country to the next government, would it? Who knows, he may just win himself many people’s hearts at the very last minute by denouncing these vices he has tolerated for a long time, though only enough to earn him a peaceful retirement. Injury time equalisers do happen.


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