Members of the opposition have now resorted to creating fake WhatsApp groups purporting to belong to the Patriotic Front party just to cause confusion, Copperbelt Province PF chairperson Nathan Chanda has charged.

Reacting to the decision by the PF secretariat to have all PF WhatsApp-related groups registered, Chanda, in an interview, said the provincial executive had noted that some blogs were bearing the ruling party name when they were in fact run by opposition political parties.

“For Copperbelt, we are actually engaging the secretariat and we are just waiting for them to come on board. For us, we want to do it like a workshop where we even want to train these who will be administrators so that we don’t encourage hate speech, we don’t encourage people to just peddle lies and people just to spread falsehood. We want social media to be used to build, unite and talk good of our party members and our nation at large. For us, we want to sensitize and educate people. So, as a province we have noted with concern whereby people just wake-up and create WhatsApp groups and use the name of PF to insult PF. That is illegality! And that applies even to the bloggers that if you are using the name of the party, there must be a certain decorum for those who are administrators in those blogs,” Chanda, who is also Luanshya Mayor, said.

“In as much as we are supporting that, people should understand the rationale behind that [directive]. The idea is that these WhatsApp groups are there and must be there to support the calls of the party. So, those groups, which have got the element of showering insults, dividing and in case if you have followed some WhatsApp groups are named after our party, but inside there when you check, some of the characters, which are there (are) from the opposition who want to fuel confusion in our camp because the opposition know that PF is a force to reckon with. And they want to do everything possible just to divide us.”

He said the provincial executive was planning to hold a workshop to sensitize all PF social media blog administrators to be responsible and guard against abuse of the communication platform.

“So, I sent to all the WhatsApp groups that I am in the province, asking the administrators of these social media, be it WhatsApp, Facebook and other pages that people have created, [and] some are created by individuals, but they are using our brand, PF. And this is where the owners of PF, the secretariat and the members of the Central Committee are now asking that, why don’t people use the brand correctly? So, it’s not like stopping or doing this and that, no. We have asked all administrators of these blogs to find a suitable day, date and venue where we can meet and try and talk about these issues so that we educate one another on these issues. We understand as a party that freedom of expression is very important, but freedom of expression does not mean freedom to insult others through character assassination and saying things that you cannot substantiate,” said Chanda.