NATIONAL Arts Council chairperson Patrick Samwimbila says the organization is not aware of any artists that are planning protests to air out their grievances against the government.

And Samwimbila has warned individuals and interest groups to stop hiding behind artists in championing their agendas.

Meanwhile, Samwimbila has urged social media bloggers and influencers to stop judging and demeaning artists who meet with government officials because they are Zambian and have the freedom to walk into any office, including State House.

During a press briefing in Lusaka, Wednesday, Samwimbila said artists could not engage in any protests as they believed in discussing and sorting out matters amicably.

“We are not aware of any artists that would want to protest because these artists have aired their views and they are willing to sit down and discuss. So our model here as a Council, the way we resolve our matters, I think of late, you have heard even some issues concerning artists in the media, even those that have quarreled, the way we resolve our matters is to sit down on a round table and discuss amicably, we don’t resort to protests,” Samwimbila said.

“We feel there is no need for anyone to engage in unnecessary antagonism because there are sufficient platforms for our artists to be heard. With this in mind, we therefore wish to call upon individuals, political parties, civil society organisations or indeed any other interest groups who plan to hold demonstrations for their own agendas, and I emphasize, all those that want to demonstrate or those that plan any gatherings, they have agendas to drive and we call upon them to stop hiding in the well-intended concerns that our artists have recently aired through their channels or on their platforms, on their pages. They have aired their concerns on issues they have seen happening or not happening well in the country and they have been heard. So these individuals that plan illegal protests should not hide in the statements that these artists aired, in short we are saying please don’t involve the artists.”

He further said the same way artists are celebrated when they air out their views is the same way they should be celebrated when they meet with leaders to air out their grievances.

“I also want to address one other issue; I want also to appeal to social media bloggers and social media commentators to desist from judging and demeaning any artist or artists who decide to meet with any government officials to air out their views. The same way these artists are celebrated when they air out their views and people shout ‘we stand with you, we stand with you’, that is the same way we expect social media commentators to stand with the artists when they also decide to take other channels like meeting their leaders. Artists are Zambians, and the leadership, the government that is there is for all Zambians so everyone must have the freedom to walk in any office, to walk in any ministry and even to go to State House to go and air out their views or to have a dialogue with the leadership,” said Samwimbila.

“But then, when artists do that, people take on to social media to say they were paid or they were given this. I mean if that’s the Zambia we want to build that whenever two of you are seen chatting, then there is somebody who has paid someone just there, I think that type of culture must come to an end.”