Shikapwasha says ‘blood remarks’ were devastating to nation

Lusaka, Jan 7, ZANIS – Government says Col Panji Kaunda’s statement that this year’s tripartite elections would be the bloodiest was very devastating for most people in the country.

And Government has stressed that it does not harbor any hatred against the Post Newspapers and its owner Fred Mmembe.

Featuring on Radio Phoenix Let the People Talk programme in Lusaka today, Chief Government Spokesperson, Ronnie Shikapwasha said Col Panji would have done well to consult government on measures put in place to ensure the elections are violent free than for him to make such a statement.

Lt Gen Shikapwasha said most people especially women kept calling him asking if it was true that the 2011 general elections were indeed going to be the bloodiest.

The Chief Government Spokesperson who is also Information and Broadcasting Minister explained that the statement ignited a lot of fear in people and is likely to create voter apathy as most people will be scared to participate in the electoral process.

He said government is working around the clock to ensure that the 2011 elections are as violent free as possible, saying the police have been beefed up and defense forces are on hand to assist conduct violent free elections.

And Lt Gen Shikapwasha has stressed that Government does not harbor any hatred against the Post Newspapers and its owner Fred Mmembe.

He said what government hates is for the paper to continue peddling lies that are aimed at discrediting the government of the day.

Lt Gen Shikapwasha said many people have been hurt because of the unsubstantiated lies that the paper has peddled.

“One Chieftainess from North-Western Province, Chieftainess Nyakulenga came crying to me that the Post Newspapers had misquoted her and that when she went to see the reporter who had written the incorrect story, the young man insulted her”, he said.

Meanwhile, Lt Gen Shikapwasha has said the public media in the country operates independently and free from government interference.

He said the public media have boards and management that are professional enough to make their own decisions, adding that government does not prevail over headlines they make.

Lt Gen Shikapwasha also stated that the public media is open for all citizens to access and air their views concerning what is happening in the country unlike certain private medias that have shut out certain individuals.

“ZNBC, Times of Zambia and the Zambia Daily Mail are available for all our citizens to access. It’s up to the people themselves to decide whether they want to use the public media or not”, the Minister said.

Speaking at on the same programme, Economic and Political consultant Bob Sichinga commended the MMD for holding ward and provincial conventions to elect party officials. He said this was a manifestation of what true democracy is.

Mr Sichinga stated that all political parties in the county should emulate the move by the ruling MMD and hold party conventions for the sake of enhancing democracy in the country.

He proposed that a law be enacted to compel all political parties to hold elections to select their representatives.

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