In the recent few days we have seen a bitter exchange of vulgarities between State House and the opposition. In fact, to say an “exchange” would be unfair to members of the opposition because the continued foul language has been originating from the Republican Presidency.
We have written about PF being the Manyozo forwarding party, and in that opinion, we went ahead to name the culprits of foul language, including a summary of their distasteful remarks. But today, we would like to zero in on President Edgar Lungu’s spokesperson, Mr Amos Chanda.
This man is supposed to be different from the rest. His job description distinguishes him from everyone else who is free to say out whatever comes to mind. Those people we named in the Manyozo opinion can justify their undesirable behaviour, because without foul language, they can’t achieve what their horrible jobs demand them to achieve. But that is not the case with the State House Press Aide.
Mr Davies Mwila is not in government; he has no office anywhere near State House. His deputy Mrs Mumbi Phiri is equally just a cadre of the ruling party, and so is the PF Media Director Mr Sunday Chanda. These ‘insultants’ and a few other ministers who have rotten mouths are reasonably detached from the Presidency. It’s easy for them to engage in bad language and get away with it, but Mr Amos Chanda cannot because he is the face of State House and public image of the Head of State. The President’s spokesperson must cultivate the ability to control his temper so that he can always stand the higher moral ground.
We feel the recent fray between Mr Amos Chanda and Mr Charles Milupi has not been handled well by the State House official. Of course, we agree that Mr Milupi, in his capacity as Opposition Alliance chairperson, provoked Mr Chanda by accusing him of being at the centre of the Sesheke by-election violence. We can vouch for Mr Chanda and testify that during the heat of things in Sesheke, he was actually attending the Mining Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa.
We know this because during that period, we called him on a number of occasions requesting for an interview over the arrest of Infrastructure Development Minister Ronald Chitotela. We wanted to know if the arrest had President Lungu’s blessings and if the Minister would be suspended. He told us that he was away in Cape Town, and as such, he could not give a remote comment without understanding what was going on back home. The Opposition Alliance didn’t need to investigate Mr Amos Chanda’s whereabouts because everybody saw his pictures with other government officials at the Cape Town event. So, it could not be possible that he was in Sesheke.
On that fact, it was, therefore, wrong for Mr Milupi and his Opposition Alliance to claim that Mr Amos Chanda was among those who instigated violence in Sesheke. We can add by saying that it is unacceptable to accuse a person of committing a crime just because that individual is serving in government. Critics need to establish facts before opening their mouths to make allegations. In this case, Mr Milupi has surely offended Mr Chanda because he cannot prove his accusations in any way.
But be that as it may, Mr Chanda is holding a much more sensitive and important position in the Republic of Zambia than Mr Milupi. The two cannot speak the same language and with the same tone. From a political point of view, the Opposition Alliance chairman is just but a job seeker. So, it is expected that he will make some unfounded allegations on the governing party so that voters can think he is a better politician than those in power. If his accusations are too grave, the aggrieved have the right to litigate.
Unfortunately, Mr Chanda’s liberty to verbally defend himself has to be measured and well thought out. This is important because people are inclined to believe that the State House Press Aide is a villain who is constantly abusing his powers. Unfair as it is, Mr Chanda ruins his reputation by ‘insulting’ Mr Milupi while the opposition leader gains public sympathy. As can be seen in this case, none of the readers are questioning Mr Milupi’s false allegations, but they are stunned by the despicable reactions from the accused! People are just saying: “Amos akula mutu”, without caring about what has offended him.
That is why we are here, in good faith, to speak to the Amos Chanda that we thought we knew from the beginning. Sir, we are of the view that you have changed. In your career as a journalist, you have been able to stomach so many injustices. We know that you have tolerated so many people who have injured you. Those are the attributes that earned you that position. There were many people in the Patriotic Front who desperately wanted your job, they tried to poison each other to President Lungu, but you stood out among them. Today, you are serving your fifth year in State House under President Lungu while those who thought they were better are either out in Foreign Service or on the streets.
We are concerned that you are slowly detaching yourself from the Amos Chanda that you used to be. A kind, hardworking and listening journalist. You used to be meek and gentle in your handling of issues and we loved you for that. What has happened, sir? What has gone wrong? Why are you struggling to contain your emotions?
We want our Amos Chanda back, we reject this savage that has taken over his spirit! The Amos Chanda we knew would never call Milupi a lunatic, even when he knows in his heart that the elderly man is among the most sane and respected political figures out here. The Amos Chanda we knew would find so many ways of exposing the lying opposition leader without ruining his own image. That is what we, the younger journalists, admired about him. We are concerned that soon, his achievements will stop inspiring upcoming media practitioners because his language is taking away so much.
Bring back our God-fearing Amos Chanda. If President Lungu wants that kind of language poured on those who are challenging his leadership style, let him hold a press conference and use his own mouth to insult. Stop betraying your inner self to please your employer, Mr Amos Chanda. Use that position to prove to the public that you are a level-headed person. Make mistakes, but don’t make unnecessary enemies. It’s not too late to make amends, sir. We submit.