The Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) last week ordered a ban of a local television reality show called “Lusaka Hustle” which airs on DSTV’s Zambezi Magic, on grounds that it is corrupting people’s morals and promoting homosexuality in the country. The IBA has since ordered local producers of television shows to produce content that reflects the Zambian culture and suits the needs of content consumers.
“This follows public outcries that the Lusaka Hustle reality show promotes a lifestyle contrary to our Zambian values and culture. Further, the Authority has received several comments from the Public concerning the show in question and as such, has directed Multichoice Zambia to withdraw the Lusaka Hustler reality show in Public interest,” said Independent Broadcasting Authority director general Josephine Mapoma, quoting a section of the IBA Act.
To those who have not heard about this reality show, Lusaka Hustle is more or less like a localized version of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”, an American reality television series that also airs on DSTV’s E! Channel. The show focuses on the personal and professional lives of selected Zambian celebrities who showcase their daily “hustles” through various activities.
Some conservative Zambians have risen to complain about the airing of this television show, and the Independent Broadcasting Authority has moved with lightning speed to take action, “in public interest”. The reality of the matter is that this action from the IBA has emanated from a photograph that was shared on social media, depicting a male participant on the show exposing his thigh. The gentleman in question is a man called Mukuni Godfrey Mulundika, whom a wide section of society perceives as gay because of the manner in which he carries himself.
In the past, this gentleman, who is popularly known as Kuni, has been confronted on this issue and he denied being gay or promoting homosexuality. He has never been arrested or prosecuted for related offences, and therefore, he is only guilty of being gay by the fact that he dresses like a girl, talks like a ‘she’ and walks like one. Now, it cannot be disputed that although gay people exist in Zambia and their numbers seem to be on the rise, our Zambian society has not yet embraced this minority group of people – not to mention the laws. What gay people are facing is not stigma, but rejection.
On that basis, we have no problem with the banning of this television series, if indeed Zambians find it appalling by the mere fact that Kuni features in it. The only observation we can make is that those who called for the banning of this show are burying their heads in the sand. They want the evolution of culture to seem like it is flourishing on the surface, while the underground is rotting. Instead of facing the problem and addressing it, they don’t want their eyes to see the reality of what is going on around them.
Anyway, our opinion today is not debating whether or not gay people should be embraced. Our concern, rather, is the hypocrisy that is embedded in this decision by the Independent Broadcasting Authority. While MultiChoice airs other local programs on the same Zambezi Magic channel that showcase infidelity, incest and gender based violence, the Independent Broadcasting Authority has picked on this particular one where there is a suspected gay man. Can madam Josephine Mapoma claim that this is the only show that is corrupting the morals of viewers? Why hasn’t the IBA banned the other TV shows that are televising scenes of incest and infidelity? It appears as though the IBA is saying infidelity and incest are part of the Zambian culture, while homosexuality doesn’t exist in our society.
We will not be far from the truth if we brand this country as the most hypocritical nation in the world. Some of the decisions that come from our leaders don’t make sense even to a toddler; it’s insane and sickening.
Like UNZA lecturer Brenda Bukowa has rightly observed, the most prudent thing that the Independent Broadcasting Authority could have done was to summon the producers of the series to understand the nature of television show they are selling. It is not like the Lusaka Hustle airs everyday, such that by the time they would be holding that meeting another ‘gay episode’ would have been televised. IBA had all the time to conduct an investigation before the airing of the next episode, so that they have an independent view of the public compliant. But in their own wisdom, or lack of it, they have rushed to flex their muscles and ban the show.
On the other hand, it’s over three weeks since the Minister of Traditional Affairs posted a pornographic video from his phone. People complained and demanded for justice, but we have not heard anyone from the government condemning the minister or police taking action. Rev Sumaili even has the audacity of saying she is working in the background to help her fellow minister come out of the porno scandal. Surely, there is something awfully wrong with our society.