SENDING people to prison is not an answer but a sign of acute levels of insecurity, musician Chama Fumba alias Pilato has said. The outspoken musician’s remarks come in the wake of the arrest of Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP) leader Sean Tembo for alleged defamation of President Edgar Lungu in a Facebook posting. Tembo, who is currently detained at Lusaka Central Police, questioned President Edgar Lungu’s mental wellness as he reacted to the Head of State’s national address on national values and principles delivered to Parlaiment over a week ago.
But Pilato said the government and the presidency must respond to the questions and concerns of citizens instead of resorting to arrests.
“The idea of arresting anyone who questions them or challenges them only exposes their insecurity and fears. The truth is this, the people will continue asking questions, the people will continue arguing and the best for them is to provide answers. Sending people to prison is not an answer but a sign of acute levels of insecurity,” Pilato said.
He said freedom of a person to express themselves did not mean the freedom for them to praise those that are powerful. Pilato argued that the concept of freedom of expression found its meaning when the ordinary human being expressed their thoughts and opinions on critical issues and sometimes it was offensive.
“Mr Sean Tembo was expressing his thoughts on the mental health of his Republican leader. The freedom that Bowman Lusambo has when he says President Lungu is the great leader of this country is the same freedom that Sean Tembo is using, the only difference is the message. Sean Tembo is actually disagreeing with those that think the President is a genius and he has highlighted the reasons why he thinks the President has mental health issues,” Pilato said.
“These are just opinions and not statements of facts. When Bowman Lusambo praises President Lungu he does not do so from a professional point of view nor from a medical standpoint but just him expressing an opinion and the same is true with Sean Tembo. They are both expressing opinions influenced by their own realities.”
He said police officers must sober up and not act out of pressure to appear tough. Pilato said he was aware that the police service had intelligent legal minds who would save government from embarrassing arrests but that politicians had taken charge and often times did not want to listen to brilliant minds in the police service.
“To state that the President was defamed is to mean a lot of things that may not even be proved in the courts of law. I just hope this will not end up as a comic episode like many other cases that started like this under this same charge,” Pilato said.
He also told Tembo not to allow anyone take away his right to speak.
“To my brother Sean, the freedom to speak was not given to anyone by men, so no one should take it away. Sometimes in trying to hold an opinion the price gets too high but it’s always worth it,” said Pilato.
After hours in detention, Tembo announced through his party’s Facebook page that he had gone on hunger strike to protest what he termed, “abuse of State institutions for political battles.”
And Chishimba Kambwili has demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Tembo. In a Facebook posting yesterday, Kambwili said Tembo had been incarcerated not because of insults but because he was an opposition figure.
“The moment you begin to exert your power on those you are responsible for, it’s a sign that you are losing your power. Powerful people only use their power when it’s absolutely necessary,” wrote Kambwili.