Hate speech and propaganda must be curtailed

By Dr Robert Mtonga

That there is a serious fissure in the political landscape of our beloved country is the most poorly kept secret today.
Zambia has never experienced such political polarization since her birth as a nation 51 years ago. What is more, there is now growing intolerance to a point where even matters that ought to define our very existence as a people such as ethnicity, social amalgamations among others are being used to divide brother against and brother by hate-speech purveyors and propagandists.
The Propaganda mills are running full throttle as if in a bid to out-sprint the speed of light! Lies, both naked and veiled, are being peddled at break-neck frequencies that it is virtually impossible to keep-up with them. What is more, the purveyors of these divisive lies are so innovative so much so that if awards were to be given for ingenuity, Zambians would top the list.
The false rumour-mongers, alarmists and midwives of lies ostensibly neither sleep nor slumber these days, and with the approaching Tripartite National Polls to be held on 11th August 2016 just around the corner, one would be excused to believe that sleep in Zambia will be an unpopular occupation in the lives of these people.
Anyone who finds time to listen to popular radio talk-shows or read social media blogs will agree with the fact that there has emerged a group of Zambians that has made it its business to call-in and/or write-in to permanently support one position or another whatever the topic or time of day purely based on political persuasions or is it delusions. The names and voices of these callers and/or bloggers are known from a distance and their line-up determined long before the topic of discussion is known!
Just for the avoidance of ignorance, freedom of expression is a right and those that exercise it are well within their complexion to do so. What is problematic however is if the exercise of that right becomes an excuse to trade propaganda and stifle the alternative views of other debaters.
Whilst it is a given that words cannot be trade-marked, yet the use of repugnant words, which seems to be in vogue nowadays, makes the hate-speech conveyors morally bankrupt.
Repeat, by using obscenities, such men and women demean themselves below basal dignity. It is folly to think that one is heard better when using noxious verbiage than when using the force of argument in polite, low pitched tones.
Sad, is it not, that many of our species do not know that verbal violence is more painful than physical blows.
Fellow country men and women do remember that we are one bloodline as Zambians. Political differences need not divide us to such levels of intolerance that we lose our cultural norms which norms have bound us and served us well thus far.
It just remains for me to call upon those among us with ears to hear and eyes to see to take heed that one Zambia and one Nation is all we have. Politics is just a game and not a do or die affair.

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