National Restoration Party leader Elias Chipimo says President Edgar Lungu’s violence jokes are not befitting of a Head of State, especially during the period of national prayer and reconciliation.
And Mazabuka Central UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo says it is not surprising that the President Lungu was warning of throwing punches because “his ministers exhibited the same behaviour when they got into a fight at Parliament few weeks ago”.
On Saturday, President Lungu told Ndola residents that his tolerance of attacks was not an indication that he didn’t know how to throw punches.
“What I want to make very clear is that when i say nshilefwaya ulubulu (I don’t want fighting), it doesn’t mean I can’t fight. I want to make this clear, when I say my heart is big enough it can accommodate all sorts of trouble including nonsense, it doesn’t mean i can not fight back… Me as President tekweba ati ngandesulafye amakofi teti mpose, kuti naposa It doesn’t mean that when I am ducking punches, I cannot punch back. I also know how to punch,” he said.
But Chipimo said the President’s ‘joke’ was unnecessary.
“As NAREP, we are a little bit disappointed in statements that do not help bring healing in the nation. A Head of State must at times be aware that even if he is joking, comments that promote violent reactions to dispute between individuals in society, especially coming from the leader of the nation can only bring harm. Therefore, we would urge the President to retract such a statement. It is not enough for him to say that it was just a joke. That is not acceptable and we should not tolerate such things especially when we are heading into a period were the government would like to commemorate a day of national prayer,” said.
“We cannot have a situation where the mouth is producing both spring water and salt water as it says in the bible. There is no mouth that can do that. We need wisdom in these times, we need reconciliation as a nation and comments like that undermine any significance reconciliation that can take place.”
And Nkombo questioned President Lungu’s sincerity in his call for reconciliation when he was preaching forgiveness on one hand and threatening punches on the other hand.
“It is not surprising that he [President Lungu] could say such things. Why I’m saying this is that if you recall few weeks ago, his ministers exhibited just what he was demonstrating that if he declares war against one individual, we will not like it. You can not have a President actually speaking proudly about that. The advice that one can give to the head of state is that in this, life human beings come and go but the institution of presidency remains. It is not made for one person alone. So he needs to exercise restraint on the statements that he gives because you can’t say one thing in a breath and in the same breath say the other” said Nkombo.
“So probably its the President who needs forgiveness and not vice-versa. So really, I think it was a little bit beneath the Head of State for him to say what he said. But I’m sure that’s the definition of the man we are talking about.”