THE Zambia Civic Education Association says President Edgar Lungu should pack and archive his violence toolkit until he is out of office for the sake of the country’s future.
And ZCEA executive director Judith Mulenga says it is baffling that President Lungu would, in one breath, pretend to be ‘humble’ and ask for forgiveness from “anonymous religious leaders for having told them off for something” and calling for national prayer, forgiveness and reconciliation, but in the next minute turn into “a boxer before a bout”.
Speaking on arrival at Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport in Ndola on Saturday, President Lungu said people should not think that because he was Head of State, he could not throw punches.
He also cautioned that “some individual” should not dare him into a boxing ring because his punch would knock him out cold.
“Nakanyelele ngamwakatinta tinta kala suma. (Even an ant can bite you if you continue poking it). It doesn’t mean ngandesola amakofi teti mpose. (If I’m ducking punches, it doesn’t mean I can’t throw). If I declare war on one individual, he shall not rise,” said President Lungu, in an apparent reference to Roan PF member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili who has launched a scathing campaign against corruption in the PF government.
Reacting to President Lungu’s statement, Mulenga noted the ZCEA was sickened that the Head of State could brag about his capacity to throw punches “in the wake of the scandalous assault at Parliament by two of his own serving ministers against another MP, the video of Chengelo students viciously assaulting a fellow learner and the many reported incidents of gender-based violence resulting in deaths”.
“Try as we might, we are failing to understand why the President can boast of ‘ukuposa amakofi’ (throwing punches), in the wake of all the violence the country is witnessing. His remarks are totally off course and should be condemned in the strongest terms. The presidency, through the office-holder, embodies our collective national character and if he or she can publicly boast of being able to involve himself or herself in a physical brawl, then do we wonder why violence is endemic in our society? Shame on us in ascribing to Isaac Asimov’s adage of ‘violence being the refuge of the incompetent,’” Mulenga stated in a press statement issued in Lusaka.
“What is even more worrying being how the same President changes colours like the proverbial chameleon and can instantly be unrecognisable from his previous statement depending on the audience. He seems to perpetually play to the gallery! One minute he is playing ‘humble’ and asking for forgiveness from anonymous religious leaders for having told them off for something and calling for national prayer, forgiveness and reconciliation and the next minute he is a boxer before a bout. Absolutely confusing.”
She reminded President Lungu that Zambians did not want to be led by a “pugilist otherwise we would have gone to the many boxing stables scattered around our nation to elect a President from”.
“Provocation is not a defence either. If criticism gets under your skin, the presidency is not for you – try something else. But as long as he is in office, we demand that for the sake of the future of this country President Lungu should pack and archive his violence toolkit until he is out of office,” Mulenga noted. “Besides, when we look at Article 92 in the Constitution which speaks to his functions, ability to throw a punch is not listed. Where did the President find ability to throw punches as part of his job description? Article 92 and other functions found in the Constitution or as prescribed do not refer to throwing punches. Article 92 obligates the President of the Republic of our beloved Zambia to ‘perform his or her functions with dignity, leadership and integrity and other acts necessary and expedient for, or reasonably incidental to the exercise of executive authority.’ If the President is not able to reign in his emotions, he needs to resign. None of us Zambians signed up for an emotional person for the presidency [and] even the ones feeding from his hands do not want a brawler for a President!”
She further stated that the President should stop deluding himself as a kanyelele (ant) because he was the repository of power, courtesy of the people of Zambians.
“Since January 2015, he is the person with the most power in this country at his command. What army, State intelligence, the police, ZAF does a kanyelele have? Where is the morality in the commander of the defence forces feigning defenceless victim in a form of a kanyelele? Playing the victim will not stand anymore. We all know how vicious he can be. Referring to himself as a kanyelele was to psyche us up to what brutality he is scheming for Kambwili,” Mulenga stated.
She advised President Lungu to stop spreading aggression in Zambia through his malevolent remarks.
“At the pain of sounding like a broken record we would like to reiterate that Zambia is a young population with 46.4 per cent children below the age of 15. This population, with very impressionable minds, learn through internal processing of information by what they see, hear, read, write and kinesthesis (feelings). Therefore, we demand that the President stops imbuing violence in the over 7.6 millions of children in our nation, especially children who look up to the President as a symbol of our national aspirations by his violent language,” Mulenga stated, stressing that Zambia could not afford to have children growing up believing that to resolve conflicts, warfare was inevitable and that when one was powerful they ought to beat everyone into submission.
She added that the ZCEA would like to borrow from Professor Pinheiro and restate that children needed to be socialised by the mantra “no violence in any shape or form is justifiable and all violence is preventable.”
“After the Global UN Study on Violence against Children, Paulo Pinheiro, the independent expert who conducted the study, asserted that ‘no violence against children is justifiable and all violence against children is preventable,’” stated Mulenga.