The international community have raised so many concerns over Zambia’s poor governance record leading to a poor image of the country, but instead of blaming ailing dictator president Michael Sata and PF for brutality, Mmembe in this editorial blames other people.
It cannot be denied that there is an international campaign that has been launched by some Zambians and their foreign agents to discredit Zambia and the government of Michael Sata.
And at the helm of this campaign is Rupiah Banda, his sons and other associates. Robert Amsterdam, the lawyer representing Rupiah and his son Henry, is very busy giving interviews and causing to be published all sorts of articles in the international media to discredit Zambia and the Patriotic Front government of Michael.
The cause of all this is the attempt by the current Zambian government to bring Rupiah, his sons and other associates to account for what they are believe to have stolen from the Zambian people. Henry fled the country before anyone called him to account for anything. Henry knew what wrong he had done and for him, change of government was enough indication that his game was over and he had to flee the country.
But those who are campaigning against the Zambian government are not doing so for free. They are hired mercenaries. There is a lot of money in the hands of Rupiah, his sons and other associates to pay for all this work. And for money, lies are being concocted against the Zambian government and its leaders. For money, half-truths are being disseminated against the Zambian government and those who lead it. The money they have is being used to pay for the manufacturing of all sorts of propaganda against Zambia.
These are people who don’t care about truth. These are people who don’t care about the flight of the people of this country. And because of this, they have never hesitated to call for sanctions in the Commonwealth and in other international organisations against Zambia. They don’t care what such sanctions will do to Zambia. They are more interested in themselves, in their own plight. What they want is an immediate regime change. If they can’t secure this now, it must not go beyond 2016. They have pinned their survival on a regime change in Zambia and they want this at any cost and by any means.
But like all other opportunists, they never learn. They can’t see that such methods failed elsewhere. They failed in Zimbabwe where Morgan Tsvangirai and his colleagues had mobilised, or were mobilised, by external forces to paralyse their country’s government, the economy and force a regime change. This altered the balance of political forces but failed to cause the regime change they wanted. They only succeeded in paralysing or decimating the economy of that country. They also succeeded in increasing poverty, despair and hopelessness in that country, but not a regime change.
What they are forgetting is that these foreigners they are working with to destroy their own country would never do that to their own countries. There are problems and challenges, differences and disagreements in their own countries but they have never gone out to try and wage the campaign they are waging on Zambia against their own countries and governments.
It is important to recognise that many of the tensions we are experiencing in Zambia today are present in every democratic society. Any society comprises a great diversity of interests and individuals. As a result, one thing is true of all healthy democracies: they are noisy. As former United States president Jimmy Carter once said, “The experience of democracy is like the experience of life itself – always changing, infinity in its variety, sometimes turbulent and all the more valuable for having been tested by adversity.”
They are trying very hard to portray this government as a dictatorship. Truly, this is a developing democracy – it is not yet a mature multi-party democratic system. And this situation has not been created by this government. Actually, in many respects, this government has pushed democracy to a higher level than it found it. In terms of media freedom, there is no comparison between this government and that of Rupiah. This government has freed the state-owned media to an extent that cannot be compared to what it was under Rupiah. The gross abuses of the state-owned media by the Rupiah regime are well known to all. It doesn’t make sense to pretend that things are worse than they were under Rupiah.
On the implementation of the public order Act, there are challenges that still need to be addressed. But these are not necessarily a product of this government. They are more or less a continuation of what used to happen. And some of the practices can be found even in the United Kingdom or the United States. But this is not to say we should be bound by low standards wherever they may exist and use them to justify our inability to make progress.
Demonstrations, and we see this so often on satellite television, are a testing ground for any democracy. They are still a testing ground in the United States, in the United Kingdom and in many other democracies in the world. The ideals of free expression are easy to defend when everyone remains polite and in agreement on basic issues. But demonstrators – and their targets – do not agree on basic issues, and such disagreements may be passionate and angry. And we see this on television so often and so repeatedly in the United Kingdom, the United States and other so called developed democracies. The challenge is then one of balance: to defend the right to freedom of speech and assembly, while maintaining public order and countering attempts at intimidation or violence. To suppress peaceful demonstrations in the name of order is to invite repression; to permit uncontrolled violent demonstrations is to invite anarchy. There is no magic formula for achieving this balance. In the end, it depends on the commitment of the majority to maintaining the institutions of democracy and the precepts of individual rights. Democratic societies are capable of enduring the bitterest disagreements among its citizens – except for disagreement about the legitimacy of democracy itself.
It therefore doesn’t make sense to wage a relentless character assassination campaign against this government and its leaders in the international media just to advance the interests of one small group of corrupt people, people who have stolen public funds and want to go scot-free.
We are sure that the masses and the peoples will obey their instincts and not be swayed by the volume and intensity of this campaign the corrupt elements and the mercenaries they have hired are waging against Zambia.
We encourage Michael and his government not to be demoralised or discouraged by this kind of campaign. What is important is for them to have a clear conscience and the support of public opinion in our country. There is no basis for all the slander campaigns these corrupt elements and their agents are waging against Zambia. Anyway, Zambians are used to this type of baseness. How can these corrupt elements survive if not with propaganda? How can they survive without lies? How can they explain all the crimes they have committed against the Zambian people, all the money they have stolen from their people if not with lies and calumny, trying to discredit those who are trying to make them account for what they have stolen and other abuses of theirs?
What is behind this determination to stain the good deeds and conduct of Michael and his government, which has set an unprecedented example, if not the corrupt’s aim of slandering, undermining its moral authority and destroying it? The people who make these attacks know it’s all a lie; the mercenaries behind this campaign know this very well, indeed, because they know what is being done and the norms of Michael and his government.
The lies about this are told outside our country, are repeated all over to confuse many people, deceive lots of people, because there is an art of science, for engaging in this kind of propaganda. Zambia is being grossly slandered. The enemies of this government have even spoken of physical violence against people, torture and such things. They have written and multiplied all that calumny against Zambia. But all this is bound to fail.