GERMAN Ambassador to Zambia Achim Burkart says jeering a politician is within the acceptable range of expressing an opinion.
Government has officially condemned residents on Monze District in Southern Province, an opposition UPND stronghold, for booing President Lungu when he toured the town.
But in a tweet, replying to Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Dora Siliya statement on the Monze incident, Burkart observed that despite the jeering not being polite, it also happened to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“Jeering against a politician might not be polite but also happened to Chancellor #Merkel. In line with David Young’s speech on the July 4, it seems to me to be within the acceptable range of what people not liking this politician can do to express an opinion,” tweeted Burkart.
Last week, United States Embassy Chargé d’Affaire David Young said it was unfortunate that in Zambia, it was frowned upon to say anything critical about government or leaders without risking being censored or threatened with arrest.
Speaking during a digital American Independence day celebration held by the American embassy on July 4, Young noted that anyone who occupies public office should be willing to be criticized; fairly and unfairly.
“It is unfortunate in Zambia today that it is frowned upon to say anything critical about seeing your government leaders or problems in government without risking being censored or even threatened with arrests. The first of reservists for freedoms is freedom of speech and in many ways, it is the foundational of civil and political rights. It is central to all freedoms, expression through the press, assembly, peaceful protests, belief. If you can’t say what you believe, you aren’t truly free. Today, freedom of speech is under threat around the world. In many countries, you risk imprisonment for simply voicing your opinion which is the violation of the basic tenet of liberty,” said Young.
“Now freedom of speech is often difficult because at its, core it requires that people who decide to go into public life must tolerate criticism from all corners. Whether you are a mayor, a police chief, a diplomat or a national leader, democracy requires you to sign up for public criticism. If you want to have political power and influence and status and responsibilities of public office, you have to be willing to be criticized fairly and unfairly sometimes you might even be called names.”