IT IS irresponsible for public media to label what happened in Namwala as ethnic cleansing, says governance activist Rueben Lifuka.
In a statement, Lifuka, who is also former Transparency International Zambia president, noted that careless reporting of events could incite further unrest in other parts of the country.
“Given the political situation and the trying moment that we are in, it is highly irresponsible and insensitive of some media houses, particularly public media, to carelessly label what is going on in places like Namwala as ethnic cleansing. The media has an important role to foster unity and any careless reporting of events has the potential to incite further unrest in other parts of the country,” Lifuka stated.
“The media should desist from projecting views and sentiments that seek to further exacerbate the political unrest in some parts of the country. Now is the time for the media to serve as conduits for reconciliation and healing. We cannot continue to plant seeds of discord and confrontation in the people.”
He also asked politicians to rise above their partisan interests during this period.
“This is also a call on political leaders to rise above narrow partisan interests – even as you pursue different avenues of moving ahead in the current electoral process, let your language be one of building rather than destroying. All political leaders have an inevitable duty to ensure that we remain a united and peaceful people. The public media – as the people’s media – should be in the forefront and lead this process of reconciliation and generally help reduce the political temperature in the country,” Lifuka stated.
“This will not be achieved if the glaringly unethical and insensitive reporting in both the public and private media, as well as online media, continues unabated. This is also a call to all of us as a people, let us exercise restraint in our conduct and language. This beautiful country we call Zambia can go up in flames simply on account of words carelessly uttered or actions taken without much thought.”
He observed that Zambia had never experienced such levels of intolerance against political opponents.
“The violence that has characterised the election aftermath is unprecedented and a period that should make every Zambian concerned. This is the harvest we are reaping for having allowed a culture of violence and impunity to take firm root in the run-up to the election. It is sad and inconsolable to see innocent lives being affected simply because of an election. Over the years, elections have been hotly contested but never have we seen the chaos and uncalled for actions against perceived political enemies,” stated Lifuka.
“Clearly, we are now at a crossroad and it is time that cool heads prevailed and genuine leadership to deal with this sad debacle emerged. We need healing in our land and we have no option but to rediscover the unique values and sense of humanity that have served as a strong bond among the people of Zambia. Elections may elicit both negative and positive feelings but these should not determine the contours of our future. We should collectively refuse to allow what is currently happening to determine how we relate to one another in the years to come.”