ONE great news editor once said the truth doesn’t need to be defended because it defends itself. This editor who is now retired and serving public office contended that once you tell the truth, there is no need to belabour the point that you are not lying, the truth is always there to speak for those who are innocent. When you tell the truth, there is no need to even remember what you said; you can choose to forget your explanation because when you are asked in future, you will simply have to say exactly what happened rather than trying to remember what you said.

The opposite of this is lying. When you tell one lie, you have to tell a thousand more just to cover up for that first lie you told. People who tell lies have a lot of work remembering what they said to avoid contradicting themselves. That’s why successful liars do many other illegal things to sustain their lives and activities. When liars get into power, they take advantage of a gullible citizenry. They thrive when the people who are being governed don’t take interest to question their pronouncements.

But the wise say, “lies have short legs” and cannot run faster than the truth. This is very true. But the PF lies have no legs at all. If PF lies had legs, it would be difficult to catch them. The Ministry of Home Affairs told a lie on Thursday afternoon last week that the Japanese Embassy had donated 1,000 bicycles to the Zambia Police. All what one needed to do was call the Embassy to verify that claim. The following morning, we did just that and the truth was unveiled. Government lied to the citizens with a motive – they didn’t want to be accountable.

Our people are now being told that there was miscommunication. They are now saying the Ministry wrongly accredited the Japanese Embassy for a donation that, apparently, came from the Indian High Commission. If this is the case, why didn’t the Ministry of Home Affairs spokesperson clarify this when we contacted him again after our interview with the Japanese Embassy? We asked Mr Nephas Chifuta if he was sure that it was the Japanese Embassy that made the bicycle donation and he insisted that it was. We were surprised to hear this from the Ministry spokesperson because we could not understand why the Japanese Embassy could distance itself from a donation that it had made to government. We asked Mr Nephas Chifuta to confirm if there was a handover ceremony where this donation was made by the Japanese and he was very certain that there was an event at which these bicycles were given to the police.

It’s now clear. The government didn’t want to admit that they bought the bicycles so that they can evade public accountability regarding the cost. They had to tell a lie that they were donated by the Japanese Embassy to cover up the initial lie, and then they had to tell another lie that the donation was made at an open handover ceremony to make the claim even more authentic. The Ministry spokesperson was even mocking the reporter who called him, saying she was pursuing old news and people were going to laugh at her.

“Things that were there last week, we don’t repeat them this week. People will be laughing at you! Why should you be repeating things that are already in the public domain? That is not news anymore…Of course, whenever there is a donation, how does it get over to an institution if there is no handover ceremony? It is a must it was there, obviously the handover ceremony was there. How does the police get hold of the bicycles without a handover ceremony from the Japanese government? The handover was done between the police service and the donating institution,” said Mr Chifuta, bubbling with confidence.

But it turns out that there is no such information in the public domain. Embarrassingly now, senior officials at the Ministry are trying to distance themselves from Mr Chifuta’s Japanese donation. It’s unfortunate that the Ministry spokesperson is being thrown under the bus, and no one is willing to take collective responsibility. We can’t vouch for Mr Chifuta, but we have challenges believing that his bosses said India, and he accidentally wrote Japan. This doesn’t make sense. If the Ministry was clean on this matter, they would have noticed Mr Chifuta’s mistake the same day that the statement was issued. Why did they not correct this information? Are they saying Japan and India sound similar and no one at the Ministry was able to detect this mistake?

The answer is simple. Those who benefitted from this bicycle procurement are not willing to own up. They don’t want the public to ask them questions. They knew that saying the bicycles were donated would have saved their faces. So, they didn’t care who made the donation, they were just looking for anyone who was willing to “donate” what they had bought. What we don’t understand is why they picked on Japan, leaving their all-weather friend who would have willingly covered the lie for them.

Anyway, this story is not closed. We still need to establish where the bicycles came from. Let India claim the 100, we want to know how the rest were procured. Is it true that they were part of the police uniform contract? The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Zambia Police command will do better to give people the information they demand before this is revealed through an investigation. We have ears to the ground!