If the Patriotic Front were a comic group, many people would be hiring them to entertain guests at various functions. But because they are a governing political party, their jokes are annoying. In fact, the PF is behaving like that irritating comedian whom people are tired of booing but is refusing to leave the stage. The sad part is you can’t leave the show because it’s happening in your own house.
On Sunday, the Patriotic Front killed its own member, through a press statement and lumped the blame on the opposition UPND. And when their lies were exposed, they apologised to everybody but not the UPND.
Ordinarily, this would be funny if the PF media director Mr Sunday Chanda and his secretary General Mr Davies Mwila were entertaining drunkards at Mayela Night Club, but because they are in charge of the governing party of our country, they need to be told that their comedy sucks!
We are not taking issue with the fact that the PF got their facts wrong, because everyone makes mistakes. We make mistakes ourselves and we don’t hesitate to render our apologies once the error is brought to our attention. What is of concern is the opportunism that the ruling party exhibited on this matter.
For those who have not followed this story, here is what the PF announced on Sunday, September 17, 2017.
“The Patriotic Front regrets to inform the nation of the passing on of Teacher Kalaluka of Chimanja ward in Chilanga. He was admitted in University Teaching Hospital. Kalaluka was violently attacked by UPND cadres during the Chilanga Local Government election campaigns last week. Kalaluka, a youthful member of the Patriotic Front who had volunteered his time to participate in the just-ended by-election campaigns, was hacked after a gang of UPND cadres armed with stones and other objects descended on a PF camp in Chilanga… The family has moved the funeral to Kanyama,” Chanda stated.
Reading this statement, one would think that the ruling party reached out to the bereaved family, got all the necessary information about the deceased and even tendered their heartfelt condolences, before announcing the death. But it turns out none of that happened because, by their own admission a day later, the said Kalaluka was alive.
“Yesterday, 17th September 2017, my Office received information from the Party Provincial Officials to the effect that a PF member who was attacked in Chilanga during the by-election campaigns had passed on…It has come to our attention that the Provincial Officials information was not accurate. The victim is still hospitalised in University Teaching Hospital and remains in our prayers. We apologise for the inconvenience this may have caused on the victim and the BEREAVED family,” stated Chanda.
So many things are annoying in this joke. We can ignore the fact that the PF did not care to apologise to the UPND whom they earlier accused of murdering their member – such is politics, we understand, so the UPND shouldn’t make a big deal out of it – but what about Kalaluka and his ‘bereaved’ family?
This statement clearly shows that the PF did not care to visit Kalaluka in hospital during the one week that he was believed to have been at the University Teaching Hospital. They also did not talk to any of Kalaluka’s relatives, otherwise they would have been informed that the ‘deceased’ was still in hospital waiting for the party to show up on the bedside with some food and financial assistance. The authors of the statement were only interested in his death, no wonder they are still recognising the family as bereaved. They were eager to gain political mileage out of the death of a human being whom they didn’t care about. They wanted Zambians to hate and condemn the UPND for ‘causing’ the death of Kalaluka.
By claiming that the family had moved the funeral of Kalaluka to Kanyama, the PF was trying to tell the nation where they were going to deliver their material support for the supposed bereaved family, which support they did not take when the victim was said to be in hospital. This is how opportunists and crooks operate. They wait for misfortune to strike and they quickly seize the opportunity to make a name while painting others black.
The embarrassment did not end there for the PF; police spokesperson Esther Mwaata Katongo issued a statement rubbishing the death claim, adding that Kalaluka was not even admitted at the University Teaching Hospital.
“We would like to dispel reports published in some quarters of the media purporting that a member of the Patriotic Front assaulted during the just ended by-election campaigns in Kalundu area of Chilanga has died. The correct position is that during the said by-election, Police received seven reports of assault from various complainants and Teacher Kalaluka said to have died is not among the complainants. Only one person among the seven injured identified as Siamutumwa Sikapa aged 37 was admitted to University Teaching Hospital, and is still receiving medical treatment,” said Katongo.
We actually get perplexed every time the police blame “sections of the media” for misleading statements issued by Mr Chanda and the PF media office. We have written about the rise of fake news in Zambia and how politicians were responsible for ruining the reputation of professional media houses. This is a classic example of a false political statement blamed on the media. It is also a classic case of injustice on the part of the police because it is not the first time that the PF media office is issuing a false, alarming statement and getting away with it. When Mr Chanda falsely accused the UPND of plotting to bomb Intercity Bus Terminus, the police avoided mentioning the PF official’s name but instead claimed that the statement came from social media.
There is a very annoying collusion between the police and the PF aimed at painting all media houses as irresponsible. It is Mr Chanda who said Kalaluka had died, but the police dispelled media reports without mentioning the culprit or summoning him for questioning. Other people have been arrested in the country for posting false reports on their personal Facebook pages, but Mr Chanda is free, and probably preparing another false statement, just because he belongs to the ruling party.
We do not believe that the UPND is clean when it comes to political violence – they are as brutal and merciless as all the others but we insist that to accuse them of murdering a person who was not even involved in the violence is shameless. It is actually evil.
The PF should not be allowed to carry on with this kind of divisive and careless approach to governance. This is a country they are dealing with for goodness sake!