PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu’s continued silence over the ongoing gassing of buildings in the country creates an impression that there is no one in control of the country, says Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) president Charles Milupi.
And Milupi says the silence also gives credence to allegations that the gassing is State-sponsored.
On Wednesday, State House said the country was in a difficult position and security wings were doing everything in their powers to stop the gassing of houses, but that it could not be wiped out in a day.
President Edgar Lungu’s Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations Isaac Chipampe also told journalists that the Head of State’s position was that he would only talk about gassing when he knew the truth.
“It is a difficult situation we are in. The President can assure the nation that security wings are doing all they can but you can’t expect this thing to be wiped out in one day. So for someone to say that the President is not serious, or he is not being responsible, is unfair. I think everybody saw the First lady weep, so it shows how the family is affected apart from the office. There has been a lot of calls for the President to speak but the President has said ‘I will only speak if I know the truth.’ He is going to address the nation when it is appropriate. You know that he also depends on security advice before he talks, otherwise we will end up speculating like we are seeing and accusing each other,” said Chipampe.
But Milupi urged the President to take the volatile situation seriously by providing leadership at this critical juncture.
“It means that we have no leadership in the country when you have a situation such as the one we have, where everybody is experiencing a lot of anxiety; people are not sleeping during the night. Any noise, people will wake up to check what is happening. This is when we should be experiencing leadership from the President. Leadership in a form of assuring the nation that something is being done about it; leadership, also, in giving direction to the country as to what we should do, what is expected. The police know what gasses are, we have not been informed about what these gasses are. If we are told what these gasses are, maybe there are certain measures that citizens can take if they are subjected to these gasses. At the moment, it is only them who know. Now, for the President to say: ‘I will not say anything until I know the truth’…in the meantime, there is so much rumour going around. The whole nation is engulfed by these various rumours, and already people are dying,” Milupi lamented.
“People are being torched with tyres because they are suspected to be the ones behind the gassing. Where there is no information, rumours are bound and, therefore, it is not just people who get gassed, who are at risk; there are certain measures that people must take. The President must take the situation prevailing in the country as extremely serious and because it is extremely serious, it requires leadership. It requires a President who addresses the people. It is like a war; when there is a war, you require your commander to assure that everything is under control. At the moment, he is giving an impression that there is nobody in control, we don’t know what is happening.”
And Milupi said the gassing of homes gave credence to assumptions that the attacks were State-sponsored.
“And also, it gives credence to those who think that these attacks are State-sponsored because why won’t they say something about it? And also, the ones who have been picked up so far are not being taken to court; we are not seeing any action being taken against them, it is as if they are being protected! This exercise is covering almost all corners of the country and so many people are involved. Who has capacity in this country to carry out such an extensive programme other than the State? They can accuse all manner of political parties, but nobody can hoodwink me into thinking it is just a mere political party can have such an extensive programme,” Milupi said.
He also said that the State wanted the gassing of homes to persist.
“They want this exercise to continue so they will not say anything to prevent it. ‘We will not advise what to do by the way; it can’t be stopped in one day,’ what sort of language is that? In how many days can it be stopped? I think the country expects better from the President. It is as if the rule of law has been thrown out of the window. It is every person for himself! Now, who will look after the whole nation?” asked Milupi.