… when words take on a huge significance
“The court must stay away from politics. Elections are not won in court. It is in their interest to stay away from politics. Justice must be seen to be done!”
In normal circumstances, those words would be praiseworthy. However, they become extremely disturbing in the context of this week’s controversy, when they were laced with a threat of a purge, uttered by President Lungu’s spokesman, Amos Chanda, after the nullification of two PF ministers’ seats in parliament.
Lungu tried to make light of Chanda’s words by suggesting that he had been misunderstood or misquoted. However, the above quote did not in fact appear in a government-critical publication. It appeared word-for-word in both of government’s own newspapers, the Times of Zambia (28 November, page 1) and the Daily Mail (28 November, page 3).
The interesting thing is that Chanda seemingly never said this. In the interview on ZNBC TV, he says a whole lot of equally disturbing things, but never uses the exact words above. One gets the suspicion that Chanda – before realising his blunder – released a statement to the public media after the interview, taking the opportunity to sharpen some of his points. Otherwise, it is difficult to understand how the two newspapers end up publishing the exact same quote, as they normally edit quotes with a liberal hand.
In most democracies a blunder of this magnitude would result in Chanda getting fired. Right now we are all awaiting Lungu’s reaction. However, Chanda made it very clear in the same interview that he was representing Lungu, so maybe all this will simply be swept under the carpet.
Camilla Hebo Buus, Editor Zambia Weekly