POLITICAL analyst Dr Alex Ng’oma says there must be room for criticising the President, but those who do so must not do it out of malice.

In an interview, Dr Ng’oma said offering criticism should be coupled with suggestions on what the President should do.

“I think that there are two things here, one is that the President is in the public eye being the number one citizen of the country and therefore he will always attract attention from members of the general public and that attention may be positive or negative. So it is extremely important for people to understand that the presidency will always be under scrutiny and he is not immune to criticism. That I think is important to understand. When the President does well, the people will applaud him and when they think he hasn’t done what he is supposed to do, they will actually criticize him,” he said.

“So there must be room for criticising the President but especially constructively, and also offering suggestions of what people think the President should do. That I think is in order and I’m insisting there must be room for criticising not only the President but all the leaders in the nation because that’s why they are in the public eye. We need to ask a question, who are those that are criticising? Because, first of all, to be blunt, look at the UPND itself the way it behaved in the opposition. It never supported anything, it never clapped for anyone, it was negative through and through. So in this debate we must understand who are those that are criticising? What is their motive? There are people who mean well and therefore their criticism is balanced and there are those who just want to undermine and paint the President black, so it’s important to actually understand that.”

And Dr Ng’oma said those who choose to comment on national issues and on the presidency should be seen to be reasonable.

“The other side [of the story] is that those who choose to comment on national issues generally and on the presidency, in particular, must not do so out of malice. They must be seen to be reasonable, they must be seen to really have a full understanding of what they are talking about. And if they mean to counsel the President, if they mean to control the President, they must be seen to be respectful and reasonable people, so that their advice, their suggestions, their comments can be received with both hands. This is a civilized society where I think that civility must prevail, reason must prevail. To those who do things out of anger and out of malice should not participate in public affairs. In fact, the law should visit them,” said Dr Ng’oma.

“Look, it’s got nothing to do with whether the President comments or not. Of course, if the President is silent, his people in the silent rank will actually say something. You’ve got the President’s spokesperson, you’ve got the minister of information, they usually comment on his behalf, they explain what the government is trying to do. And therefore it is important that we don’t expect the President to explain things every day, so once in a while, the President will explain. I’m advising that people should not expect the President to talk every day no, because otherwise, he will not work. He will just be waiting for comments from people and then he will react. But at the same time, he must not be completely silent, like he said every quarter he must come out and address the nation, that is my position”.