PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has brought insults on himself from citizens owing to his own use of inappropriate and unpalatable language during his reign, says former commerce minister Bob Sichinga.

Commenting on a recent incident where a Kitwe man was charged with defamation of the President after he allegedly insulted the Head of State, Sichinga blamed President Lungu for using insulting language on Zambians, which had inadvertently attracted foul language on himself.

“What goes around comes around, that’s what I can say. If you remember very well, recently, the President called Zambians ‘utupuba’ when he was opening a fly-over bridge at Arcades. It’s an insult. So, when they hear those words, what do the followers do? They will dish out even bigger insults because they think it’s okay. That’s why I said what goes around comes around. In this particular case, this is what I recall very clearly. Now, the reason why we should seek integrity in all our undertakings, whether it’s in political or general life, is because the things we say reflect who we are. Insults can easily become a norm and it reflects on the character of a leader because if you were to say, ‘I will not tolerate insults, I will punish whoever insults…’ the moment you say that, every follower will heed,” Sichinga said.

“It’s the same way with abuse of resources, if those around you saw that the President was strict in terms of the use of resources, they wouldn’t abuse them. No way. And most followers tend to imitate the leader. It’s like it pleases the leader and because it pleases the leader, he wants to hear it. And, therefore, for us to gain loyalty or to gain favour from him, we must say words that are similar to what he says so that they please him. That tends to happen with most followers, especially if the followers are seeking favours. Those of us that are believers, Christians, believe in setting the example. You must show that you have integrity. Leaders should lead by example and President Lungu led by example when he insulted Zambians now his own followers are insulting him.”

Sichinga said the insults from his own followers also implied that his influence was slowly diminishing.

“If, for example, a leader likes having fun, he is a drinking buddy, he likes to go out and have some beers and enjoy himself, it can’t come as a surprise that the majority of followers of such a leader are drunkards. It follows the leader, but then even your followers can insult you because you all insult. It’s like that’s the standard set by the leader and it becomes the standard for the nation as well. But the second issue is, every leader has their own passing phase and eventually you lose your influence on your followers, the day you can no longer dish out money, the day you can no longer have influence, those followers are gone. The followers are misleading. They can make you feel like you are popular, no! They are looking out for themselves,” said Sichinga.

“Therefore, the day that leader can no longer be in a position where he can dish out funds, they will leave. That’s what this means, someone is losing his influence. These are the dynamics of politics and these are the dynamics of life itself. And this is why we say maintain integrity at all times. Create jobs for the people, create opportunities for the people. Level the playing field so that everybody using their own ingenuity, using their own capacity, using their own resourcefulness can be able to have the opportunity to be able to earn a living.”