By Prince Bill M. Kaping’a Political/Social Analyst
During the previous regime, daring to insult the president would have entailed a mortuary or ICU case, thanks to the almighty PF cadres that were keen to take matters into their own hands. Lately, we’ve witnessed a number of people insulting the president. What is causing all this? Some people have, of course, weighed in and offered conflicting reasons, more prominently UPND spokesperson Hon. Cornelius Mweetwa MP and New Heritage Party Leader Chishala Kateka.
Addressing a media briefing at the UPND secretariat recently, Hon. Mweetwa MP appealed to the previous PF administration to stop sponsoring people use the social media to insult the president.
Earlier on, Kateka had claimed that the rising number of cases of members of the public either insulting or defaming the President could be that Zambians are unhappy with his leadership and have no other option but to insult the presidency.
For the record, we don’t subscribe to either of the assertions! But what could be the main reason, you may still wonder. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to get to the root cause of this problem. During the previous administration, caderism had taken to another level. Reminiscent of the dreaded vigilantes during the UNIP era who were eager to lift suspected critics ‘by air,’ the notorious PF cadres were ubiquitous in the markets, bus stations, CBDs and even public offices. Some of them had even gone to the extent of decorating themselves with revered titles as commanders and put on military uniforms!
Anybody who dared criticize the humble leader risked having “a ton of blocks falling on them!” Any perceived culprit would be abducted and taken to secluded places where they would be subjected to spine chilling indignities. Remember the journalist in Chipata that had himself peed into the mouth for writing articles critical of government? And if you thought you were smart and offloaded profanities against President Lungu on social media, they would hunt you down with the help of ZICTA and mete out instant justice on you!
As everyone would recall, when President Hichilema got into State House, he immediately pronounced a big NO to caderism.
“If you commit a crime in the name of the party UPND, remember you are on your own!” he fired a warning shot.
Consequently, those in UPND cadres with evil intentions of emulating their peers from PF would immediately refrain from such illegalities. Today, citizens are free; there are no cadres to instill fear anymore, but instead of enjoying these newly found liberties, some people have now realized a golden opportunity to insult the president with impunity!
Even in the so-called free world, we don’t see individuals insulting presidents and their parents to such an extent as literally undressing and describing their body anatomies in graphic detail. It’s even shocking that some of these insults are coming from our mothers and children who ought to uphold good morals.
The president has encouraged us to criticize any wrongdoing on the part of his government. However, this doesn’t mean we should now start competing for entries in the Guineas Book of World Records for having uttered earth-shattering insults against the head of state!