[By Chambwa Moonga and Masuzyo Chakwe]
MCDONALD Chipenzi says the Monze booing is not new, except that such may be the first to happen in the district against a Head of State.
Meanwhile, Civil Society Constitution Agenda (CiSCA) chairperson John Mambo says it difficult to appreciate the hullabaloo over the Monze booing of President Edgar Lungu.
When President Edgar Lungu went to commission 70 housing units for the Zambia Correctional Facility in Monze last Saturday, July 4, scores of UPND supporters flashed their party symbol at his motorcade.
Following that incident, government and PF officials, and pseudo non-governmental, Church and ‘independent’ voices have been lined up on State-controlled media to condemn the act, and to demand for an apology from UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema.
The PF has since declared certain areas a no-go for Hichilema.
Governance, Elections, Advocacy, Research Services (GEARS) Initiative Zambia executive director Chipenzi has told President Lungu to be cautious of the emergence of bamushanina ubwali (petty bootlickers) in his government and in the PF.
He said the sole purpose of those was merely to seek political and economic attention from and be recognised by the President.
“The issue of him being booed in Monze must not be exaggerated and used by these bamushanina ubwali to cause confusion and divisions in this country,” Chipenzi said, in a statement.
“The fact that President Lungu himself has not complained against the booing is a commendable gesture and a signal that freedom of expression by citizens, regardless of their location and political affiliation, is welcome.”
He stated that there was no direct response from State House means that President Lungu did not get offended by the Monze booing against him.
“One wonders what has incensed the bamushanina ubwali to start demonising freedoms of others, as if President Lungu is only President for them,” he stated.
“As a person who has been in politics for long and championed media freedoms, President Lungu understands better that booing is part and parcel of freedom of expression of dissatisfaction against an elected leader by people.”
He added that President Lungu would not be the first one to be booed, nor would he be the last one, “as long as freedom of expression remains a cardinal anchor of our human rights.”
Chipenzi believes it is for that reason that President Lungu has not complained of being disrespected or accused anyone of organising the booing against him.
“This is as it should be and, as a leader, the best for him is to engage with the aggrieved people so that their dissatisfaction in his leadership, if any, can be addressed and harmony fostered,” Chipenzi stated.
“In this regard, we appeal to President Lungu to bring to a stop the hullabaloo being championed by these bamushanina ubwali who are his members in the party and Cabinet who are basically begging more from him and using the Monze booing to seek his attention. The Monze booing is not new except, may be the first to happen in Monze against a Head of State, but such booing have happened to RB (Rupiah Banda), KK (Kenneth Kaunda), [Levy] Mwanawasa, [Frederick] Chiluba and even himself, President Lungu in other parts of the country.”
Chipenzi noted that President Lungu ought to tame “bamushanina ubwali before they potentially divide this country on ethnic lines.”
“The fact that President Lungu is not affected with the booing, as exhibited by his office not issuing any statement in condemnation, it is surprising how and why other people should take it personally, if it is not for bwali (nshima) and attention seeking,” he stated.
Chipenzi further stated that Zambia would only develop when freedom of expression, exercised with responsibility, was allowed to alert leaders of some grey areas in their administration.
He said suffocating freedom of expression was a recipe for bad governance and promotion of democracy of: “bootlickers and patrons.”
“In this regard, those declaring no-go areas against some fellow citizens are going against the Constitution, Article 22(1) which empowers all citizens of this nation freedom of movement,” stated Chipenzi.
“Police therefore must nab those bamushanina ubwali [who are] breaching the Constitution before it is too late. Soon or later, these bamushanina ubwali will run away, once his table or power become empty, to do the same dance to the one with a full table of food.”
And Bishop Mambo says CiSCA is greatly concerned with the non-arrest or censure of people declaring “no go areas” for fellow citizens contrary to the provisions of Article 22(1) of the Constitution of Zambia.
Bishop Mambo said almost all presidents in Zambia, including the current one, were at some point booed by people when the people got fed up with their leadership deficiencies.
“Further, some party officials and political commentators’ misunderstanding and misinterpretation of booing of elected political leadership as disrespectful instead of as a form of freedom of expression of dissatisfaction against an elected leader is extremely amazing. Almost all presidents in Zambia, including the current one, were at some point booed by people when the people got fed up with their leadership deficiencies. It is for this reason that CiSCA finds it difficult to appreciate the hullabaloo over the Monze booing of President Lungu. We also find the demands for apologies for the people of Monze to be misplaced, baseless and unfounded,” Bishop Mambo said.
And Bishop Mambo said under Article 22(1) of the Constitution of Zambia, all citizens were free to move and reside anywhere in Zambia, and leave and return to Zambia freely and willingly without interference.
Bishop Mambo said it was disturbing that despite the clear provision in the supreme law of the land, the Zambia Police Service had remained mute, unmoved, and unaffected by such public utterances.
“Soon, the country may start witnessing political fights and violence in the so-called no-go areas for others as happened in Chingwere Cemetery in Lusaka yesterday, on 8th July 2020. The police will be overwhelmed with such incidents while hiding under the guise of “still investigating the matter” yet the instigators were left untouched and walking the streets freely,” he said.
He said the trend now emerging of police not touching ruling party officials breaching the law unless commanded or ordered to do so was clear display of the extent of the capture of the institution and the levels of partiality and selectivity in the application of the law.
Bishop Mambo urged the police to be more impartial in the application of the law and arrest those that had openly declared certain areas no go areas for certain citizens of Zambia contrary to the law before lives are lost.
He said the declaration of no-go areas by some people associated with the ruling party was divisive and an Act of lawlessness and must be condemned in the strongest terms possible.
Bishop Mambo called on the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to condemn the unconstitutional declaration of certain places as no-go areas for some citizens, as this had potential to skew the electoral playing field.