In his message of regret, Mr Chanda said although he had suffered endless personal abuse and unprovoked malicious attacks from Mr Kambwili, his response could not be justified, adding that he regrets the words used and is therefore asking for forgiveness from members of the public.
To many people, this may seem like a very simple thing to do, but we know that it takes a lot of humility to swallow one’s pride and to tender an apology upon realizing one’s mistake. It is a very painful thing to do, but it disarms those who desire to take advantage of one’s weakness to advance their agenda. It is for this reason that we would like to salute Mr Chanda for seeking a higher moral ground.
Why are we praising Mr Chanda after we condemned his actions? This is because there are many other officials in this government and particularly in State House who have done despicable things. Some, not only using abusive language, but going further to physically harm people and threatening them with death.
In the past, we have seen and heard of President Lungu’s advisor Mr Kaizer Zulu pull out a firearm and shooting at the people he differed with. We have heard and seen President Lungu’s political advisor hit a woman after a dispute at a gas station. Our memories are still fresh about an incident when this Presidential advisor physically attacked a police officer who attempted to stop him from breaking the law at a football event. The list of these incidences is long, but never have we heard an apology on any of the offensive deeds.
Instead, what we have experienced is a series of transgressions, one after another. We have witnessed pomposity, a show off of superior power and riches, not to mention a mockery of the poor. It never occurred to them that a simple “sorry” was necessary. They have never given the people whom they have offended an opportunity to forgive them.
This is the reason why today we are giving Mr Chanda the commendation that he deserves. We believe that it took a lot for him to climb down from his mighty shoes of the presidency, and openly saying to the public that: “upon reflection, I regret that I responded harshly to malicious personal attacks from Mr. Chishimba Kambwili. My harsh response was definitely a moment of lapse in judgement in the face of relentless malice from a person with whom I have no personal offense whatsoever.”
Many people will argue that this apology was not genuine. Others will argue that President Lungu prevailed on Mr Chanda and forced him to issue a statement of regret. To us, that doesn’t matter; what matters is that the man has said he is sorry. And if we may ask, when was the last time that anyone heard an apology from State House? Definitely not under this regime.
We can say with confidence that this is probably the last apology we may be hearing from State House or any other high-ranking government official, for the rest of this tenure. This is not because they will no longer offend the public, but they just never admit a wrong.
Regardless of what happened behind the scenes before the apology was tendered, Mr Chanda has done his part. It is now up to the people he offended by his messages to show clemency. The Bible in Matthew 6 verse14 says: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” So no one should judge Mr Chanda and say his apology was not genuine, that is between him and his God.
We are also glad to learn that Mr Kambwili himself has also reflected on his language and apologised to Mr Chanda. He cannot claim to be an innocent victim in this fiasco. It was not wise for him to fool people into believing that he did not offend Mr Chanda in any way. It is his mouth that started the discriminatory remarks against the State House Press Aide – charging that his sickness was making him look frail dehydrated and grey. We don’t mind the fact that he did not have the decency of sending his apology to our newspaper that initially published his attack; what is important is that he has said sorry.
Ourselves as a newspaper can also not come out faultless. We have drawn several lessons from this bitter exchange between the two rivals. Of course we are proud to be the only newspaper in Zambia that had the courage to report the story, we are the only news source that gave the people an opportunity to hear both sides of the story. But still, we feel there are areas we could have done better.
For example, we reported on Wednesday August 22, that Mr Chanda called Mr Kambwili and insulted him further in a verbatim phone conversation that we quoted. If we were a little more thorough in our digging, we would have known that the particular phone conversation which we quoted was initiated by Mr Kambwili after the two missed each other’s phone calls. Mr Kambwili said in an interview with us that Mr Chanda called him early on Tuesday to insult, yet he actually initiated that particular call through a PF supporter called Patrick Pikiti who then gave the phone to the State House Press Aide before the two exchanged bitter words.
This clarification may not, in any way, change the regrettable words used in the brawl, but such details take away so much from our endeavor to advance objective and malice-free journalism. For this, we owe Mr Chanda an apology, as this may have pushed him to believe that we colluded with his foe to misrepresent that fact. To error, they say, is human; but forgiveness is a virtue.