We understand that there are hundreds of thousands of citizens out there who are submerged in misery and are looking for ways of letting out their anger and frustrations. Some have lived in poverty for generations because successive governments have not cared enough about their plight. Others have seen their businesses collapse as a result of poor economic policies and they have no kind words for the government.
There is also another frustrated group of people in the political arena who have failed to form government because they believe that their votes keep getting stolen. They have tried to call for electoral reform, but no one is listening and it’s just not working for them. They are now failing to control their emotions because their time is running out.
But above all, the angriest are those who have individually and directly been aggrieved by this Patriotic Front regime. These include very well qualified people who have been retired from government in national or public interest without committing any wrong. The only offence they committed perhaps is belonging to a particular tribe, or questioning an illegal decision by their superiors, or exposing criminality. They have been fired without following proper procedure of retiring a civil servant.
Some of these victims have died of depression; some survivors have lost hope and have resorted to beer drinking and other illicit activities. They can’t afford to pay rent because they left government with no terminal benefits on which to earn a living. Even the brave ones who are trying to survive through private sector entrepreneurship have failed to pull through because their business opportunities keep getting trampled upon by State agents who have followed them in their retirement. Most of these victims feel going to court is a sheer waste of time because they know that there is no justice they can get as long as their oppressors remain in power.
These victims are extremely mad at President Lungu for allowing criminal elements to abuse State power in fighting personal battles. They want the Head of State to know how aggrieved they are, but they have no platform on which to engage him. Their letters of complaints can’t even go past the gates of State House. The few that get delivered end up in the very hostile hands of the aggressors who then make the situation worse for the victims.
All these devastated people would like to take a bite at the President because they can’t handle their frustrations any more. They have tried to endure, but they can’t stomach it further. The edge for vengeance is getting the most out of them, but since they have nothing to fight back with, some have started giving government leaders a piece of their mind.
There is a Lusaka resident called Justin Chikonde who has a bone to chew with the Patriotic Front and President Lungu in particular. This elderly man took social media by storm a few days ago because of his insulting prowess. He was heard and seen in a viral video insulting the Head of State and Cabinet Ministers in a manner that cannot be repeated in a narration.
This aggrieved fellow who claims government owes him about K15 million in benefits, had jaw-dropping insults; insults which not even a sworn enemy deserves to hear. What was heart-breaking was that these insults were not coming from a young teenage boy who could hide behind the influence of alcohol. They were coming from a man whom, in our assessment, could be the same age as President Lungu.
We do not agree with that approach. For whatever wrongs he may have committed, insulting President Lungu is a monumentally stupid thing to do. Why do we say this? Well, President Lungu does not deserve anyone’s insults, not only because it is a crime to insult him, but because it solves nothing at all. It will not take anyone out of poverty. Insulting the President will only make the situation worse for the victim who may have had a very good reason for being angry at the State. As we speak, police have arrested Mr Chikonde, and anyone who has seen that video wonders how he will get out of that self-inflicted problem.
Don’t get us wrong. Zambia is a democratic country, therefore, citizens are free to illustrate where President Lungu is going wrong and telling it in his face that he is a failed leader (like we are repeatedly doing). They can call him a dictator if that is what they think he is – that is not an insult. They can go further and publicly mobilise citizens to vote him out at the next elections. Those with legislative power have an extra privilege of removing him from office before the next election using an impeachment process, as long as the law supports their grounds.
But we are totally against the growing trend of showering insults at the leadership of this country. In countries like the United States, what Mr Chikonde was saying is not a big deal. We see Americans insult President Donald Trump on live television and they call it freedom of speech. But that is not, and must not, be allowed in Zambia. Let us not copy other people’s negative cultures and make them our own because it will cause a huge governance problem for generations to come.
Those who are individually aggrieved by this government must carefully manage their frustrations. We would like to encourage those who are seeking solace from the Church to continue getting spiritual counselling. There are also other support civil society organisations that take up such matters of State victimization and these institutions are ready to help. Reach out to them and let them hear your case.
Insulting President Lungu is not a solution at all. It’s just like cursing at a stone which you hit into; it may give you some short-lived satisfaction, but it can’t stop the bleeding. After all, a stone has no ears.