Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union, Mr Emmanuel Mwamba, has asked the Inspector General of Police, Mr Kakoma Kanganja, to arrest political analyst and commentator Dr Sishuwa Sishuwa for SEDITION after Dr Sishuwa sued him in the Lusaka High Court for defamation.
Sedition is a serious offence that refers to the act of inciting revolt or violence against the government with the goal of overthrowing it. Those arrested on a charge of sedition cannot be granted bail and the punishment is a seven-year prison sentence.
I thought I should provide a chronology of events to help anyone interested understand how we have got here.
19 March 2021
News Diggers newspaper published an article written by Dr Sishuwa Sishuwa titled ‘This is why Zambia may burn after the August election’. In it, Dr Sishuwa discusses the erosion of democracy and lack of freedoms in Zambia ahead of the elections, and the poverty. He also warned that “If Zambia descends into large-scale political unrest after the 12 August general elections, there are three major factors that would have driven the country to that outcome. These include the public’s increasing lack of trust in (and outright contempt for) formal institutions — such as the judiciary, the Electoral Commission of Zambia and the police — as arbiters of the contest between those who wield state power and those seeking to acquire it.
“A second factor is that this is a high-stakes election, featuring two ruthless groups of political elites. One wants to perpetuate its stay in power to continue accumulating resources and to escape possible prosecution and imprisonment; the other seeks to win power to prevent a crushing end to its members’ political careers. Leaders and supporters of both groups see the August election as a matter of life and death and are likely to rebel violently against an outcome that does not favour them — particularly if the electoral process lacks credibility.
“What has emboldened these two factors is the third: the incriminating silence of international, mainly Western, institutions and actors who once spoke out against human rights violations and murderous attacks on democracy, thus exercising some kind of leverage on the actions of the political elites in power. “
Dr Sishuwa went on to mention 15 factors that have left Zambia on the edge such as mass poverty, violent party cadres, mass unemployment and inequalities, a politicised police service, and the fact that the government has ‘stockpiled weapons to kill potential protesters in the event of a flawed election outcome’. He then provided possible solutions for averting the situation. Below is the link to the article.
20 March 2021
Lusaka Times published on their website the same article written by Dr Sishuwa. Read the article on the link below.
22 March 2021
News Diggers newspaper published a response from Mr John Nyawali, a concerned parent, former spokesperson of the Drug Enforcement Commission and currently a public sector employee working in the office of the Vice President of Zambia. In it, My Nyawali disagreed with Dr Sishuwa’s views and stated that the state of democracy in Zambia was not as portrayed in the article. Mr Nyawali accused Dr Sishuwa of fanning the flames of violence and said Dr Sishuwa’s warning about potential unrest shall not come to pass because Zambians are peaceful people and institutions of democracy are working just fine. Although the article was published in the print edition of the newspaper on 22 March 2021, it was only uploaded online on 26 March 2021. Below is the link to the online version.
On the same day, two other newspapers, The Mast in Zambia and The Mail & Guardian in South Africa, published Dr Sishuwa’s article. Here are the links:
29 March 2021.
Mr Emmanuel Mwamba, Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union, responded specifically to the Mail & Guardian version of Dr Sishuwa’s article. In an article published on his Facebook page, Lusaka Times, Smart Eagles and other online media outlets, Mr Mwamba stated in his response that Dr Sishuwa was attempting to scandalise Zambia, harm its reputation and impose a false alarming international narrative. Mr Mwamba then alleged that Dr Sishuwa’s article published in the Mail & Guardian was a paid for propaganda piece and he could even guess who had paid for it. Below is the link to Mr Mwamba’s article.
1 April 2021
The Mast newspaper published extracts from a letter that Dr Sishuwa had written to Mr Mwamba on 29 March 2021. In the story, Dr Sishuwa stated that neither he nor the Mail & Guardian newspaper received any payment from anyone for publishing the article. He then requested Mr Mwamba to either retract within 48 hours what he termed as the Ambassador’s ‘defamatory and false’ claims and apologise, or face legal action. Read further on the link below:
6 April 2021
Lusaka Times published Dr Sishuwa’s response to Mr Nyawali. After thanking Mr Nyawali for responding, Dr Sishuwa rejected the accusation that he was advocating violence. Dr Sishuwa said in the article: “I wrote to alert Zambians to the possible consequences of the trajectory the country has embarked upon, to help identify the drivers of that possible danger ahead, and to suggest some effective solutions. In other words, I am not the message. I am the messenger. I am a carrier of the knowledge of the possible consequences of a flawed election. I am not the cause of the current movement towards civil unrest in Zambia, post the 12 August election. I hate violence, which is why I am, in fact, alerting the nation to the point that any country that follows the trajectory Zambia has embarked upon may end up in grief, great grief, if nothing is done to arrest the key drivers of potential post-election violence, as elaborated in my article…
“I am merely illustrating how our behaviour is leading us to that outcome. Alerting the country to this progression does not amount, even in the remotest sense, to fanning the flames. To the contrary, I am doing everything possible to prevent us from arriving at a situation where unrest becomes inevitable. Please stop shooting the messenger, deal with the message.” The full response is on the link below.
21 and 22 April 2021
Several newspapers including the Zambia Daily Mail, News Diggers and Daily Nation published stories stating that Dr Sishuwa has sued Mr Mwamba in the Lusaka High Court for defamation. See the link below.
26 April 2021
Mr Mwamba circulated on his Facebook page a letter dated 26 April 2021 that he wrote to the Inspector General of Zambia Police in which he asked Mr Kakoma Kanganja to arrest Dr Sishuwa for sedition over the Mail & Guardian article. The same letter was published on Mwebantu, Lusaka Times, Zambian Observer, Zambian Watchdog and several other online outlets. Below are the links.
So, there you have it, Ladies and Gentlemen. That is how we have got here.
Source: Pilato’s Facebook page https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=313892700086558&id=10004397491656