President Edgar Lungu’s Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations, Amos Chanda says he will continue exchanging words with his critics, rubbishing advice that he should tone down on confrontations with opposition political party leaders.
Speaking when he addressed the Zambia Public Relations Association conference in Livingston, Thursday, Chanda said some people were lecturing him to avoid responding to accusations from critics such as ADD President Charles Milupi.
And Chanda also wondered whether some workers at ZICTA were conniving with people who were committing cyber crimes, as the authority had not taken action against the suspects despite having the capacity to do so.
Earlier this week, Milupi accused Chanda of being among State House officials who instigated violence in the just ended Sesheke by-election, but in denying his involvement, the President’s spokesperson said the opposition leader was a lunatic who needed psychiatric attention – a comment which caused mixed public reactions.
“So I have gotten the whole week being lectured that I can’t talk to Milupi in that manner, that he is an old man. Excuse me, what about a twelve year old daughter who asks me why I am a [being called a] criminal suspect? They say no… because where he went to church, some people were asking him ‘how can that young man Amos Chanda call you a lunatic? Now, you are PR experts and I will repeat this and it can last the whole last time; if Milupi saw me in Sesheke where I was not, tell me the description of that state of mind? If he insists that he saw me, he is seeing ghosts isn’t it? What state of mind is that? If he heard me speak to somebody, if you hear voices when people aren’t speaking, what state of mind is that? So the reason why they are saying don’t answer, is to perpetuate that falsehood,” Chanda said.
“And what are the reactions that I am getting? That ‘no, you can’t answer to this, you are presidential spokesperson’ give me a break!, there is Amos Chanda the person, a parent, friend of somebody, an uncle to somebody. If I am going to walk into the living room and a twelve year old daughter is going to ask me why I am a criminal suspect, somebody must [also] answer before their son, why they are a lunatic, it’s a fair game!”
Chanda said some desperate Politicians who were being praised by rogue online media institutions were the ones influencing the spread of fake news.
“There is a political party that enjoys sympathy of most rogue websites and that’s not a political party of the President I represent, I think that he is not praised on rogue websites so I will leave that one for another day. So who influences fake news? It’s desperate politicians, people with personal grudges, compromised media houses, media personalities on a political agenda, media houses with a grudge against political parties, international agencies with an interest. I was dealing with social cash transfer myself, personally I was assigned to do that and newspapers who could just walk to the British High Commission and DFID or go to the Swiss, or go the Americans and ask ‘there is a tweet that the western donors have frozen aid’ go and ask the Swedish ambassador, he says no but he continued to print that story. That is not quoting the British High Commissioner, it’s you as newspaper that is propagating fake news,” Chanda said.
And Chanda wondered whether some workers at ZICTA were conniving with people who were committing cybercrime as the authority had not taken action against the suspects despite having the capacity to do so.
He however said government would soon crackdown on people who hide in the cyberspace to spread false news as minister of Home Affairs Steven Kampyongo had told him that his ministry and the ministry of Communication and Transport, had finished constituting a special team to deal with cybercrime.
“So Police, ZICTA and all regulators have no excuse and what pains me is this information I have that the capability within ZICTA is there to get these people. When it really matters and we want to get them, we have told ZICTA to find them and they have found them. So is there collusion between these mischief makers and some individuals in these organisations? We are forced to ask these questions but the good news is; as I was coming Honourable Kampyongo called me and said I should say this that he and Honourable Brian Mushimba have completed the constituting of a special team that will live in the dark spot where these criminals are living and they will have no hiding place. They will be trained in the same way that these people are trained. If for a moment we are going to sacrifice freedom for order, we are going to do that,” said Chanda.
“So the days for anonymous cyber space are over, the days of comfort that you won’t be seen are over and of course there will be some irritations here, there, there will be some noise about our dissent on freedom, I do not advocate for a moment that the open democratic space available, necessary for the success of our democracy must be narrowed or squeezed, no! The point I made was that freedom without responsibility is dangerous.”