PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has warned youths, musicians, and civil society organisations planning to protest against infringements on freedom of expression that they will be dealt with by the Zambia Police.
Addressing party members in Chirundu, Saturday, President Lungu said those planning to protest were promoting anarchy and confusion in the country, going further to order his Minister of Home Affairs, Stephen Kampyongo, to deal with them.
He said government was aware of a scheme by some people to reduce people’s confidence in the PF.
“Those of you in Lusaka who are plotting to bring chaos by saying ‘we will demonstrate, no we will do this’, freedom of speech, freedom of insulting people, we will deal with you under the law, Kampyongo is here, the police are here. I am saying this because there is a scheme by some people to bring anarchy here, they want to bring confusion. So we are not going to allow that. Some people have put money aside to incite students from colleges and universities to begin demonstrating, creating violence and confusion because they want to bring this country to its knees so that people can lose confidence in PF. People know that PF means well, people know that PF is a peaceful party.They want to provoke the police so that the police can react like it happened in America, they will say ‘no! We want change, we want change’ I think change yapa kamwa sivuta (speaking of change from the month is not difficult) because we will change you instead,” President Lungu said.
“This is a warning, through you to the people of the Republic of Zambia, because we have information that some people are ganging up under the name of civil society organizations to bring anarchy because they are saying freedom of speech has been threatened by the remarks attributed to honourable Lusambo when he said to those two that ‘please apologize’. He said that apologise, they have not apologized that is it? Can’t it end there? You want to take to the streets because honourable Lusambo said apologize? It does not make sense to me! What honourable Lusambo said, ‘those were demeaning or insulting words, guys apologize in 24 hours or else’, now should that be a trigger to bring anarchy for people to take to the streets? ‘We want freedom! We want freedom, [freedom] to make noise?’, Kampyongo deal with these boys.”
He said Lusambo was also exercising his right in telling the youths to apologize over their remarks.
“Democracy and Freedom of speech simply means you can say what you want to say against the President. Yes you can say what you want to say to the President but Democracy and freedom of speech simply means that even those who are not happy with what you have said can also say ‘waya sana iwe (you have gone too far)’ that is democracy, now what is wrong with that? If those boys said what they said and Bowman felt that they have insulted the President and says ‘this is too far waya sana, you are insulting my father’ should that give reason for people to take to the streets and bring law and order to risk?” he wondered.
President Lungu said musicians should stick singing their music and desist from ridiculing the name of the President.
“I am saying to my friends the musicians, just sing your songs, we will listen to your songs, we love you. Those who want to sing and criticize the government are free to sing and criticise us, that is their democratic right and as artists, they are at liberty. This thing is not new. People in the villages used to sing and sing, sometimes even ridicule them, that is fine and if one headman says ‘iwe waya sana’, you cannot say ‘muno mu mushi twala fumamo pantu baletukanya ukwimba’ (We will leave this village because we are not allowed to sing). Akwimbeni bane. But ngamwapula mwifunde we will deal with you (continue singing my people, but if you break the law, we will deal with you).To sing, it’s freedom of speech. To ridicule the President as long as you are within the law, it’s okay but to insult the President, obviously there are laws that can deal with you. So if this continues, we will tolerate it but if the law is broken, obviously we will deal with you as a law breaker and that will be taken as political intimidation,” said President Lungu.
“So I want to make this very clear because I am not only party President I am also President of the Republic of Zambia. It is not the first time I have been insulted by these boys. It is not the first time I have humiliated or ridiculed by these boys, I have taken it and I will take it and I even buy their songs; but to break the law in the name of saying no it’s freedom of speech, ‘no what and what’…we will deal with them! But don’t take the law in your own hands ba PF because the law enforcers are honourable Kampyongo and police and others. Anyone who breaks the law they will deal with them but if they are singing their songs, you can also sing because you know how to sing. So those who are talented in singing, sing and we will sing with you, we will buy your music but if you insult and break the law, the law will deal with you. That is my message. Freedom of speech means you can speak freely but engage your brains first.”
A few minutes after the live stream ended, however, the video was deleted from President Lungu’s official Facebook page.
Several stakeholders have been calling for Lusambo’s dismissal after he threatened popular musician Brian Bweembya alias B-Flow, international photographer Chella Tukuta and gospel musician Kings Malembe Malembe after they commented on the handling of Gold mining, corruption and other governance issues.
Lusambo said freedom of expression did not mean acting more intelligent than the President.
Despite the 24-hour ultimatum given to the trio to apologise, only Kings Malembe Malembe obliged while the other two stuck by their word, vowing that such threats would not silence them.
And in a letter to Lusaka Province Police commissioner dated 5th June, some youths submitted a notification of a planned protest slated for June 22, 2020 on the mismanagement of mineral resources and threats on freedom of expression.