We have noticed that the opposition UPND has risen against our newspaper because on Wednesday we published an opinion that disagreed with the views expressed by their vice-president Mr Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM).
Their media team cooked up and circulated some propaganda insinuating that we had turned against the UPND because President Edgar Lungu, using his corrupt business allies (the so-called Gupta family) had bought us 15 Toyota Hilux vehicles for our operations. They claimed that our newspaper was being funded by the PF. These are lies which we will not waste time refuting.
We knew that the UPND media team was behind this cheap propaganda because we work with them in the online media business and we know their style of writing and choice of words. A basic investigation confirmed our suspicion.
But we are not bothered with their insinuations because we have bigger aspirations than pleasing their ego. And just to be clear, we have not turned against UPND because we have never been in any agreement with them. News Diggers! is not here to help the UPND ascend to power, neither are we here to help the corrupt ruling PF remain in power. Our job is to objectively inform the public and share our objective opinions about what is going on in our society.
This could be a little confusing to some people because in Zambia, newsreaders have become so accustomed to the “either” “or” mentality, so finding a newspaper that is walking in the middle is strange and unbelievable.
We have demonstrated our objectivity by criticising the National Democratic Congress leader Honourable Chishimba Kambwili where we thought he went wrong. We have questioned Mr Hichilema’s lack of political acumen and we have also heavily condemned the PF leadership starting from the top.
In fact, on so many occasions we have written extremely hard opinions on President Lungu’s dictatorship and his tolerance for corruption. We have written about the thug life of his political advisor Mr Kaizer Zulu, and we have condemned the “I know it all” attitude of State House press aide Mr Amos Chanda. We have not received the kind of reaction that the UPND has thrown at us. Instead, when Mr Chanda calls us, it’s to react to what we have published against him or the President, and not to accuse us of being funded by the UPND.
Anyway, it seems the UPND leadership has a very short memory, because they have fought such battles with the private media in the past and we thought they learnt a lesson or two.
The UPND currently don’t have state machinery with which they can muzzle the independent press. Now we are left to wonder; what would have happened to us as a media house if this kind of intolerance to criticism from the UPND was at State House? How would they have treated us if they had State power? What instructions would Mr GBM have given to the UPND cadres against us? We are afraid!
Clearly, the UPND leadership wants private media organisations to only attack the ruling party and never dare touch or question their policies. They want us to wait until they form government before we can raise issues over their leadership character. No, that’s not how democracy works. In a democracy, the media is allowed to offer checks and balances to those in power and also scrutinise politicians vying for public office, so that citizens can make informed decisions.
It is good that Mr GBM issued a statement, reacting to our opinion. He had the right to respond and we have given his response the prominence it deserves on our platform. This is because it is among our objectives to let all voices be heard – good or bad.
Funny enough though, Mr GBM did not respond to the issues we raised apart from accusing us of practicing what he termed as gutter journalism.
Mr GBM simply insisted that rich people make good leaders because when they ascend to power they don’t have the desire to steal. He says a well-to-do leader doesn’t worry about going back into poverty after leaving the presidency.
That sounds like a good argument especially that Zambia is currently under the leadership of a previously poor President who has amassed so much unexplained wealth in a short time.
However, our issue is on the misguided notion that when a rich man becomes President he will not steal because he is already well to do. That’s the basis on which Mr GBM wants Zambians to vote for him. We feel that is like urging people to vote for his riches not his wisdom. So what happens if God makes Mr GBM and Mr Hichilema poor before the next elections in 2021? Is UPND saying Zambians will not be expected to vote for them for fear that these leaders will get in power to steal?
Our point is simple and we don’t have issues with rich people. But we are trying to demonstrate the difference between wealth and wisdom. That is why we went to great lengths of exhuming old files revealing the interests of one rich man called GBM who once served public office as Defence Minister. In those files, he told citizens that he went into politics to expand his business empire. Those are the issues we expected Mr GBM to explain to the people. We are asking the question; can a man like him not have the temptation to steal or abuse State power?
Let’s face the truth here. Mr GBM landed that leadership position in UPND on three grounds – his tribe, his financial capacity and his popularity (either for good or bad reasons) – but nothing to do with his leadership qualities. Even Mr Hichilema knows in his heart that his choice of running mate was, to a certain degree, a setback.
Yes, we admit that the UPND vice-president is a charming guy, he is extremely social and very generous. But his leadership in government has been tested and leaves much to be desired. That is why we would like him to give sensible reasons why he must be voted as vice-president of Zambia and what he will do better than what his PF rival is doing. Not “vote for the rich because we will not steal your money”.
We believe that what makes a good leader is not their bank account status or the house they live in. There are some rich people who would not steal when elected into power because they are not thieves by nature and they are content with what they have. In the same vein there are some poor, but principled people who would assume the presidency, work for their salary and retire with benefits. (We gave an example of Dr Kaunda).
But Mr GBM is a Zambian citizen. He has the right to vie for any leadership position in this country and Zambians are free to vote for him if they so wish. We will be here to remind them of our warning. For now, we shall leave this one question to Mr GBM’s sympathisers and his future voters.
If Mr GBM is voted into power on grounds that he is already rich and cannot steal, then God suddenly takes away his private wealth like He did to Job in the Bible, what will happen to our public resources that will be under his poor behind?