Dear Mr Antonio Mwanza,
Congratulations upon your promotion to the role of Media Director for the Patriotic Front. Well-deserved, if you ask me. I wanted to seize the moment to say this is an opportunity for you to steer your media titanic away from an impending political iceberg.
As we draw closer to August 12, 2021, it is not surprising that the volume from your party’s lie-dispenser is getting louder and the quality of the lies is dropping in a hurry. The spin-doctoring in the past few weeks smirks of desperation. The witch-hunting and smear-campaign on HH is both laughable and without taste.
You will remember, sir, that the latest chain of attacks on HH began with a seemingly innocent (yet sinister) question a couple of years ago: How did HH become rich?
May I suggest, Mr Mwanza, that Zambia’s most important question is not how HH became rich (though he has graciously explained this several times). With that question, we are fishing in the forest. The real question is how did Zambia, a rich nation at independence, become poor?
Following the ill-intentioned inquiry into HH’s wealth, came the roller-coaster of accusations that has randomly gone something like this: HH underpriced the mines; HH committed treason by not telling his driver to drive into a nearby bush in Mongu; HH fraudulently bought his Kabulonga house; HH was funding the gassers; HH benefited from pecuniary advantage in the AVANI Hotel sale; HH dubiously acquired farm 1924 etc. The list is longer than the Nile river.
The “winner accusation”, for me, is the latest episode starring half a dozen of shameless Judas-es: HH is stingy . As I watched that video of “relatives”, my emotions shifted from laughter to sadness to anger to pity and back to laughter again. They all spoke with unmistakable laryngitis, a choreography gone wrong. What a brood of vipers!
To be clear, I believe that freedom of opinion, expression and association is a cornerstone to any democracy — particularly in moments of heightened political activity. At their best, these freedoms should help us to shine a light on dark places, tell stories that would otherwise go untold, standing up for what’s right, challenge power, and hold those who abuse the system to account. However, it should be remembered that the first obligation of freedom is the truth.
I find it gravely concerning that a ruling political party, with the instruments to fetch the truth, has constantly sought to feed the nation on a bellicose menu of distortion, falsehood, and outright fabrication – all around one individual. When power is enjoyed without responsibility, the effect is that the trust we all place in this much-needed industry – politics – is degraded.
In the recent past, we have watched how people — including the Hatembos and their alleged abductors — have had their lives completely pulled apart for no good reason, other than the mistaken belief that salacious gossip and baseless slander will boost the PF political advert and diminish HH’s chances.
This letter is not about preventing criticism. It’s not about shutting down public scrutiny of the man who may well end up in State House. Citizens have every right to have an opinion on HH, good or bad. But such an opinion can’t be based on lies. It’s time we elevated our politics, Mr Mwanza, and the media plays a key role in this narrative.
With you at the helm of the PF Media, we look forward to your team spotlighting national issues and causes that so desperately need acknowledging. And we look forward to seeing the same from all political parties. Should you, however, wish to continue commodifying ‘helpless’ people and parading them to parrot some hurriedly rehearsed lies on HH, we would have you know that there are some of us who have the verbal means to respond. We will not sit idle and watch you convert HH into a punch bag.
Lies, we are told, have short legs, Mr Mwanza, but the PF ones have no legs at all. My advice is that if you are going to present lies to us, respect us enough to dress them. Your party’s naked lies, of late, have been an ugly sight, and frankly, quite nauseating.
Once again, I welcome your appointment and urge you not to squander the opportunity to sanitize.