Blood in Isoka: The continuing failure of Edgar Lungu’s leadership

By Elias Munshya

Honourable Dora Siliya, the minister of information and broadcasting, issued a statement on May 17, 2020, condemning the behaviour of ruling PF cadres who had invaded several radio stations in Muchinga Province. The conduct of PF thugs is unwelcome. This behaviour is a detriment to the development of both common sense and the rule of law. The cadres invaded the radio stations because the stations had featured opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema.

On May 18, 2020, the Patriotic Front cadres did even worse than previously. They invaded the radio station in Isoka and beat up members of the press they found in the building. These cadres have no respect for Dora Siliya. They do not care about her, and her made-up statements. Her hypocrisy, they can smell. And taking that, they are willing to disregard her comments and wishes. In any case, she does not really call the shots. Every other time that she tries to call the shots, Ms. Siliya is either doing something dubious or closing Prime TV, an independent television station. So, perhaps the PF cadres are right. Ms Siliya lacks the standing and fortitude to condemn their behaviour. The thugs are willing to continue disregarding her no matter how she erects her resolve against them.

I would agree with the Patriotic Front cadres. I think Dora Siliya should take her hypocritical statement to her village in Petauke. This is precisely what she said last year when Hakainde Hichilema wanted to donate a diesel power generator to the people of Chawama, in Lusaka. Ms. Siliya, the chief government spokesperson, told Hakainde to take that generator and present it to his village in Bweengwa. Clearly, this woman has no regard for the rule of law. She does not believe in One Zambia One Nation. As far as she is concerned, Mr. Hichilema cannot donate to Chawama. It is these series of behaviour that make Zambians, and even the PF thugs themselves have no ounce of respect for her, and quite frankly, neither do I.

A question then must be asked. If Dora cannot control the cadres, who can? Whose responsibility is it to tame these killers and criminals? That responsibility falls on to the shoulders of our country’s commander-in-chief, Edgar Lungu. Mr. Lungu is the one the cadres will listen to. Mr. Lungu is the one who should set the tone for the nation. We are not suggesting that the President should be talking all the time. No. He does not have a loud enough voice to speak all the time.

Further, when he speaks, Edgar looks like he is either sleeping, or recovering from a severe hangover of kachasu. However, it is not the physical voice Zambia wants – it is the tone of leadership that they expect should come from the President. Since the President is weak, it will be open season for all kinds of political criminals. They will continue attacking innocent people and beating up and assaulting radio stations. They will continue doing so because there is no leadership from the President.

 As long as something benefits his false humility, Edgar Lungu is willing to tolerate it. And the cadres can read right through him, and when they do, they unleash untold violence on the unsuspecting journalists. How can we stomach this idea that PF thugs armed with stones, sticks, machetes and in some cases guns can enter the democratic spaces of a radio station and beat up journalists? How can we even think that such behaviour is normal?

The PF thugs in Muchinga Province are claiming that they are stopping Mr. Hichilema from appearing on radio stations in Muchinga because they believe that Muchinga is a “no go area” for him. PF thugs are not normal. Muchinga is a province in Zambia. Hakainde is a Zambian with full “amayendele” rights. Where do these kelenkas get the guts to claim that a Zambian citizen has no right to visit Muchinga? These crooks are overrunning Zambia because there is a President who cannot act and give proper direction to them. The PF chairman for Muchinga Province, Mr. Alex Simuwelu, further claims that during the COVID-19 crisis, Mr. Hichilema should not be speaking on the radio. Mr. Simuwelu lacks common sense. Enough said about this clown.

The PF violence must be addressed before it is too late. In fact, it is already too late. The buck stops at State House. No matter how sleepy, or sick, or drunk Edgar Lungu is, he is the President of this republic. And the presidency comes with responsibilities that go beyond opening fake Chinese factories and reading boring speeches on TV. The presidency sets the pace for peace. It is this desire and passion for peace that seems to be lacking from the President. These cadres will not listen to Dora Siliya. They want to hear from Lungu. But is he willing to speak? Anyway, as a master deflector, Lungu will probably blame someone else for the violence in Mpika, in Chinsali and now in Isoka. He cannot act because Edgar Lungu is a feeble president. Tall, he is. But unfortunately, that height seems to have given no better view to respect the sacred bodies of the people he presides over. I hope Edgar Lungu will surprise us all, and by the time this article is published – he will have told his thugs to stop the bad manners. But will they?

Elias Munshya can be reached at elias@munshyalaw.com

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