President Edgar Lungu says he will only address the nation on the ongoing gassing incidences around the country “once he knows the truth”, according to his spokesperson Mr Isaac Chipampe. The State House spokesperson also says despite unleashing soldiers and other military personnel on the streets, citizens should not expect the gassing of houses to be stopped in one day.

“It is a difficult situation we are in. The President can assure the nation that security wings are doing all they can but you can’t expect this thing to be wiped out in one day. So for someone to say that the President is not serious, or he is not being responsible, is unfair. I think everybody saw the First lady weep, so it shows how the family is affected apart from the office. There has been a lot of calls for the President to speak but the President has said ‘I will only speak if I know the truth.’ He is going to address the nation when it is appropriate. You know that he also depends on security advice before he talks, otherwise we will end up speculating like we are seeing and accusing each other,” Chipampe told journalists, Wednesday.

First of all, State House cannot separate President Lungu from speculation because they walk in tandem. If speculation was a woman our Head of State would be happily married to it. We say this because speculating is what President Lungu has been doing since he got into power. Examples are many but one which stands out is the speculation he made before he invoked Article 31 of the Constitution in July 2017 and declared a Threatened State of Emergency. Mr Lungu was convinced and he told the nation that the opposition was behind the rampant acts of arson which had engulfed the country at that time.

He said the arsonists wanted to make the country ungovernable because they were bitter after losing the 2016 elections. He said this during a press conference at State House, but did he have facts? No! He was speculating, that’s why to date, he has not been able to name the opposition members who burnt down City Market. Strangely, they have sat on the report into that investigation.

That’s not all. Most recently, and more specific to the topic, this President made another speculation that fake prophets were behind the riots in the country as they were spreading superstitious believes to people. Which security wing gave him this information? Whom did he consult? Did he have facts? No! That’s why he came back to offer a bounty to people who have facts. You see how deeply in love President Lungu is with speculation? So it baffles us to hear his spokesperson say the President will only speak when he knows the truth.

And a President can’t say I will speak if I know the truth. When your household has been attacked by criminals, your mother falls down and starts weeping “amwa peeling.., amwa peeling… it’s time for the father to step in and show he is in charge. He can’t say ‘I won’t talk about what has happened to us until I know the person who attacked’. That’s being an irresponsible father.

We might need to remind the President and his spokesperson that it is not even the responsibility of the President to name the suspects of gassing who are arrested or to announce the charges that are being slapped on them. That is the role of the investigative wings that he has deployed to arrest the situation. So, the people of Zambia are not demanding that President Lungu must address the nation so that he names the people who are behind the gassing, what they want is to see their President inspire confidence and hope that indeed he is concerned and that progress is being made to stop the rising death toll at the hands of angry mobs. Most importantly, he must show his face and answer questions from the people who put him in office. The gassing has terrorized people, but it is the mobs that are killing innocent citizens. Citizens are saying ‘what are you doing about it?’

It was also worrying to hear State House declare that despite the soldiers being deployed on the streets, citizens must not expect the gassing to end in one day. What do they know? What is State House basing this on? We ask because a doctor would never say how long a patient would take to heal without understanding the complexity of the disease. A doctor can’t say this headache will not stop in one day without understanding what is causing it. So why is State House so confident that, even with soldiers patrolling the whole country, gassing cannot be stopped immediately? To us, this suggests that they know something.