The biggest mistake leaders make is to use state apparatus against political opponents – Lifuka
By Malawo Malawo
REUBEN Lifuka says the biggest mistake Zambian leaders make is to use the police and State apparatus to deal with their perceived political opponents.
And Lifuka has observed that Zambia needs a media that does not shy away from reporting the tough news.
Commenting on the raid on Post Newspapers Limited proprietor Fred M’membe’s residence, former Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) president Reuben Lifuka noted that the harassment of the esteemed journalist needed everyone’s denunciation.
“Colleagues, I fully agree that the persecution that Fred and family are suffering needs to be condemned by all of us. I would not want to see my family harassed on account of what I have done, what I believe in and what I stand for,” Lifuka stated in a statement.
“Having said that, my elder brother Fred, his dear wife, Richard Sakala, the editors of Times of Zambia, Zambia Daily Mail, ZNBC, Muvi TV and social media etc – all have a role to play to set the right tone for healing. Today, it is the media, which is the purveyor of this hatred. It is the media that gives coverage to politicians with toxic tongues who do not believe in this nation successfully healing. It is the media that props up leaders, including those who are doing wrong things. Who is covering President Lungu and giving a slant to the news to give an impression all is well in the country? Who is covering HH, Mumba, Mulongoti, Kabimba etc when they use language which debases decency in politics? Who covers Kambwili, Kampyongo, Mumbi etc when they utter unpalatables against opposition leaders?”
He stressed that it seemed leaders did not learn from history.
“From President Kaunda to President Lungu, the biggest mistake they have all made is to use the police and State apparatus to deal with their perceived political opponents. This heavy-handed approach, unfortunately, has simply managed to breed bitterness, hate, anger and ill feelings. In this nation, we have given rise to a culture and cycle of hatred, which will be difficult to break. Successive generations will have to deal with the hate and anger of their ancestors,” Lifuka stated.
“Today, President Lungu is in office and he may feel justified to use his position to ruthlessly deal with those who oppose him, tomorrow, tables may turn and the victims of harassment may assume office and the natural instinct will be to revenge for the pain they suffered, and equally to use the power gained to deal with dissension and the cycle of hatred continues. We all remember how President Chiluba dealt with President Kaunda and other ‘UNIPists’ after 1991. Of course, we cannot forget what FTJ had to endure at the hands of KK. We all remember President Mwanawasa’s (at times with the full backing of the media -both public and private and civil society) treatment of FTJ especially during the high profile corruption cases.”
He added that Zambia wanted a critical media that could provided objective news and information on what was happening in the country.
“We want a media that can hold our leaders to account – a media that does not shy away from reporting the tough news. However, we also need a media that is ethical, responsible and helps us achieve our national goals. We also do not want praise singers for the ruling party or opposition parties – but balanced advocates for the truth,” Lifuka stated.
He wondered what sort of action Zambians took when their preferred leaders were insulting or harassing opponents.
“Do we speak out and condemn our leader of choice or in fact, we wish that the insult was even bigger or indeed the beating suffered by our opponents should have been severe to teach them a lesson? Society has created the political leadership we have. Here is my take – we, collectively as a people, have created the mess we are in and we, as a people, should work together to get us to a better place,” Lifuka stated.
And Lifuka stated that Zambia needed healing and that such would not come through the use of force, oppression, sarcasm, insults, disrespect and self-centeredness.
“Our leaders should rise above this and take the lead in unifying this nation. We are planting seeds whose bitter fruits we will soon reap. Where is the love Zambia? Why should lives be lost, people maimed, families torn apart, and friendships lost – all because of mundane politics? My question to President Lungu, Mr Hakainde, Dr Nevers Mumba, Mr GB Mwamba, Mr Kabimba, Ms Nawakwi – what legacy do you want to leave for Zambia? Surely what will be the meaning of prosperity in the midst of civil strife?” asked Lifuka.