For the sake of posterity and our nationhood-Let’s Have a New Era Void Of Fake News And Violence
By Sunday Chilufya Chanda
Fake News Kills Steals and destroys lives
In a recent BBC Africa Eye article by Yemisi Adegoke entitled “Like. Share. Kill.” (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/nigeria_fake_news) the Nigerian Police discuss how fake news is literally killing people in parts of the West African nation.
They describe how false information and incendiary images on Facebook have contributed to more than a dozen recent killings in Plateau State- an area already ethnically polarised.
Adegoke’s article further narrates how after BBC Africa Eye got in touch with Facebook, the Social Media company disabled the account of a man in the UK who was spreading misinformation and fake news to thousands in Nigeria, triggering and perpetuating a wide scale inter-ethnic massacre.
At the rate some political quarters are peddling and spreading fake news and misinformation on Zambian Social media platforms today, it won’t be long before lives are lost on a massive and ethnic scale as in Nigeria.
All Zambians with the nation’s interest at heart, should heed the warning given by several local and international experts that was recently ingeminated by former Bank of Zambia Governor Caleb Fundanga; that fake news and related negative and exaggerated sentiments of the country’s economy and national liabilities, have the grim prospect of harming the economy; ultimately negatively affecting the livelihoods the welfare of citizens. Sadly, fake news goes beyond taking away livelihoods; it eventually takes away lives.
Purveyors of fake news are in essence enemies of economic progress and humanity; they are enemies of the people of Zambia and enemies of life.
Fake news and violence are offshoots of the same tree rooted in the acrid soil of anarchy. No one would stand to win if the country were to be engulfed in a blood bath and left in ruins. The scandal mongers among us are like deranged suicide bombers hoping to live and enjoy what they crave once they have harmed their victims; yet they too would have lost their lives in macabre nonsensical fashion.
They are like persons drinking poison, hoping the people they scandalise will be harmed.
Why is it that UPND Have never condemned fake news?
We note that the UPND have never condemned fake news. We therefore call upon them to rethink their fake news and lies as it could be very costly to themselves and their families who are part of the fabric of our nation.
Their deafening silence on fake news is implicit of their support of its practise.
When has Zambia ever heard the UPND leadership condemn fake news and lies?
Just as in the Nigerian case, there is a UK based UPND member notorious for spreading inflammatory misinformation that could easily spark bloodshed. His party’s leadership have never rebuked him when he has claimed responsibility for coordinating fires in public places, or even when he has published current examination papers.
In a related recent development, suspended UPND lawyer Martha Mushipe was circulating an article purporting that the author of this article had issued a statement directing PF youth on the Copperbelt Province to burn UPND leader Mr Hakainde Hichilema to death when he appears at Ndola Central Police for investigations.
This deadly fake news and misinformation circulated by the UPND had the tacit support of their leader, and it was designed to instigate a blood bath on the Copperbelt between UPND youth and their PF counterparts, in the way fake news sparked genocide in Rwanda. Again, the UPND leadership conveniently appear to have lost their tongues.
Fake news, misinformation, tribalism, genocide as well as racism and xenophobia are all intertwined.
How many times have we heard UPND sponsored fake news and hate speech targeted towards the Chinese?
How many times have we heard the UPND members at home and abroad incite the torching of public places like markets and courts?
In fact the UPND leadership has never condemned the pre and post General Election Namwala ethnic cleansing where citizens from other parts of Zambia were systematically targeted and brutalised.
Fake News – A Repackaging of the “Mapatizya Formula”
The “Mapatizya Formula” which the UPND formulated some years ago where-in they organised a ‘militia’ that attacked government vehicles, impounded food supply convoys, held meetings without permits and harassed government ministers and caused wanton mayhem, has now been repackaged to incorporate fake news and mis-information.
Their Mapatizya “model” of violence has evolved in such a subtle way, that after the perpetrators have committed their brutal deeds, they try to manipulate sympathy for themselves and outrage against their victims by whimpering and fabricating fake news against the victims.
For The Sake Of Posterity-A Call for A New Era Without Fake News And Violence
We call for an end to the era of fake news and violence and we call for civility in politics where facts are presented as alternatives to what the Patriotic Front is doing.
We call for a new era where the political affiliation of Zambians will not be stereo-typed or pigeon-holed by the origin of their surnames and their ethnicity; and where people will vote based on ideas presented rather than blind tribal affiliation.
Our politics should be better – for the sake of all Zambians and for the sake of posterity. Politics should not be“game of tricks” leveraged fake news to manipulate and polarise innocent citizens on the basis of tribe and region.
Fake news can be deadly. “Like” & “share” can kill. God forbid –that should not be Zambia’s portion.
Let’s have a new era of civility.
The Author is Patriotic Front Media Director At the Patriotic Front Secretariat Lusaka.