By Sakwiba Sikota
The Ambassador, the Professor and the Archbishop is the topic of my piece today. “An Ambassador, a Professor and an Archbishop walk into a…” sounds like the beginning of a bad joke.
I will start with the Archbishop who released a statement that seems to be alive as it has a heartbeat and blood running through its veins.
There were many questions during the past few days about an OCIDA presser;
Has OCiDA come to life?
What will they say?
Are they going to hold the press conference?
Why has it been canceled?
Will it be released to the Public?
What pressure was made to bear?
Who orchestrated the pressure?
Who will respond to what is said?
OCiDA did come to life and they said many serious and grave things that were wrong and needed to be attended to urgently. These matters included a range of governance issues that included regionalism, corruption, emerging dictatorship, high cost of living amongst many other issues.
They did not hold the presser at Kapingila House, but a written release was made after the cancellation of the press conference. High-level government officials visited the Archbishop, not for a confessional but, for presenting a gag seeking the silence of this servant of the lamb of God.
The Archbishop revealed last Sunday that Mwamba Peni, the Permanent Secretary(Special Duties) at Cabinet, was sent by Cabinet and State House. We now finally know what ‘Special Duties’ are assigned to Mwamba Peni.
The presser garnered more pre-release publicity than Prince Harry’s ‘Spare’. It equally had some zingers, although different from those released in ‘Spare’, that cannot escape great interest and attention from the general public.
The response by the British Royal family has only increased curiosity and interest in the “Spare”. Similarly, the build-up to the on-and-off press conference and non-address of the allegations has increased interest in the Archbishop’s statement. It has even managed to get international press coverage.
Nothing has been said as to how the issues raised by the Archbishop will be addressed. Instead, the response was to say that the presser was not the Archbishop’s. If the Archbishop sees a wrong, it is normal for other persons to see the wrong.
Suddenly we started hearing that the statement was not by the Archbishop but instead by Professor Sishuwa.
Instead of seeing Sishuwa’s shadow in all things critical of their shortcomings, the New Dawn should shine attention to the content of the criticism and address the identified flaws, or to employ competent people who can respond or explain the government’s actions.
Isolating Sishuwa as the nucleus of opposition puts him in harm’s way including political violence, especially in a society where many have been encouraged to believe that criticism of the government is not only wrong but should also attract punishment.
One of the reasons why the UPND are moved by Sishuwa’s criticism is that the usual strategies they employ to dismiss critics: that ‘they were quiet under PF’ or that ‘they are PF supporters’ does not apply to many.
The Archbishop poses a certainly pertinent question when he asks “not too long ago Telesphore Mpundu was your hero, what has changed?”
There are several other people who were heroes for the New Dawn but things have changed in the way praise singers are looking at them. I am thinking of individuals like; State Counsel John Sangwa, Civil Right Activist Brebner Changala, President Kelvin Fube Bwalya, President Nason Msoni and even popular social media like the Whistleblower Facebook page.
The British Royal family has failed to address the issues raised by Prince Harry in his book “Spare” and instead actively campaigned to undermine the book. Here in Zambia, the New Dawn has adopted the British Royal family response to “Spare” and also tried hard to debunk and undermine the Archbishop’s OCIDA statement.
They have tried to debunk the Archbishop’s statement by bringing in Ambassador Emmanuel Mwamba and Professor Sishuwa Sishuwa. To attack the Archbishop’s statement the New Dawn is saying the presser was written by the Ambassador and the Professor.
What is surprising is that, rather than answering the issues raised by the Archbishop, the focus is on “who wrote” the piece. It shows that they are unable to intelligently respond to what the Archbishop has said. If Archbishop asks “What is two plus two?” the answer will be “Four”.
You can’t tell me that if Sishuwa asks, “What is two plus two?”, the answer is, “Five”.