People’s Party president Mike Mulongoti has warned the PF government that continuous oppression of citizens, including journalists, could lead to the formation of terrorist groups that may spread violence.
And Mulongoti says the PF under President Edgar Lungu has stopped carrying private media institutions on international trips because they do not want their criminal activities to be exposed.
Commenting on the state of governance in the country, Mulongoti warned that continuous oppression could lead to the development of terrorist groups, and increased likelihood of terrorism.
“The people who want to think that arrogance will solve problems are cheating themselves. I have never said this before but let me say it today, all this Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda’s and we had Mushala in Zambia, they are a product of intolerance; when leaders become intolerant, they invite people to find alternatives and the other alternative to peace is violence,” Mulongoti warned in an interview, Friday.
“Government should not invite violence, we must at all costs avoid allowing people to get so angry that they would not want to sit on the table and discuss. Nobody has got monopoly on violence; all of us must fear violence. But then it appears some people in their conduct they think they’ve got control. How can they have control with this modern technology? Because people are using drones now. How would you control a person with drones sitting in their house using remote control to attack your house? This is how modern warfare has developed. So let us not invite that.”
And commenting on the blocking of journalists from marching on World Press Freedom Day to pave way for the motorcade of Angola’s President, Mulongoti argued that the visit of a foreign Head of State did not have to infringe on the rights of journalists.
“The people who have got authority must realise that the visit of a foreign Head of State cannot be paramount over the rights of citizens in the country. We should not be made to feel that it was wrong for us to have that visitor in our presence. What we want is for government to consider the rights of citizens before paying more attention to visitors,” Mulongoti said.
“So, we are inviting the press to begin to work with us over these matters. They should not feel intimidated, this is a temporary issue and we are trying to stop these issues because this is our country and we expect the press to be in the forefront of this. Don’t be intimidated, just speak out and bring justice to the people of this country.”
He, however, said he was “happy” that journalists also experienced what opposition political leaders in the country go through every day, and hoped that the media would take the matter seriously.
“We are happy as politicians that this event has turned out to be helpful to us. Because usually when we complain as politicians, people think we are just irritating. Now, you journalists in your innocence trying to exercise your rights on your national day, the World Press Freedom Day, you were stopped from proceeding and held for many hours. I have seen a picture where Ms [Hellen] Mwale was even pointing at a police person. We have a problem, we’ve got a challenge. And this challenge will not solve itself. So, we must get together as Zambians and use our collective wisdom to find solutions,” he narrated.
Meanwhile, Mulongoti charged that the only reason the PF government had stopped carrying private media institutions on international trips was because they did not want their criminal activities to be exposed.
“The problem that’s there is that when you are doing criminal activities, you don’t want to be covered. Any leader who is transparent and accountable would want things reported to the people of Zambia. But I want to ask one question, ever since the PF [under President Lungu] stopped carrying the private media on his trips, have they told the people of Zambia what they have achieved there? 55 trips all over the world, what have we achieved? Nothing, it’s all just been a cost. That’s why they are scared to carry the private media; they know that the private media will not keep us in the dark,” said Mulongoti.
“So our cry is that we need a government that is transparent and accountable. Because you can’t be travelling all over the world without reporting to the people of Zambia, any presidential trip is a huge cost to the people of Zambia, so there is no way you can just be going to New York and come back without saying what you went to do. What are you going to look for? The last time Zambia was prominent was during Mwanawasa’s time. Of late, it’s just silence. Wherever these leaders go to, they are not even heard and there is nothing to report back home. That’s why we are worried about their trips outside.”