This writer resides abroad for professional work related reasons and the commonest question from citizens of the Country I am a resident of is “What is really happening in the Southern African Nation of Zambia?”
The effectiveness and popularity of social media has far outstripped and outpaced the traditional electronic ‘on air’ media of TV and Radio. It’s no exaggeration that the speed with which news travels now via social media is faster than the speed of sound, literally speaking.
I will give an example of an ‘iconic’ image of the Zambian Agriculture Cabinet Minister, subserviently kneeling before Mr Edgar Lungu, that swirled the International airwaves within seconds of its debut on social media.
I will add that it was a public relations disaster for Lungu that will haunt his character for a long time to come.
Yesterday’s images of a heavily armed ‘battle hardened’ police special forces with an assortment of military weapons, most dressed in aggressive sniper camouflage rag fatigues, supported by armoured vehicles and mounted units, made curious and incredulous social media appearances around the World.
Not even the hardened racist South African police force in the days of apartheid, appear near to what was exhibited by the Zambian Police yesterday.
Zambians are currently deeply divided along sectarian lines and will applaud or condemn the heavy handed action by Lungu based on the political and ethnic divide.
History of brutal despotism however shows that police aggression at the instigation of dictators, does not choose tribe or Party.
It’s blind application had its brief show on the ZNBC workers who have been Lungu’s self appointed praises singers, when they looked at the barrel of the Kalishinokov assault rifle in the face, last week.
Was it really necessary to deploy hundreds of police, to fire teargas on a rather peaceful small curious crowd, that had turned up on the peripherals of the school football field, more for the reasons of watching police horses and strange vehicles, than commit ‘crime’?
One day Zambians will wake up with no freedom to breathe as free air would have been saturated by tear gas from political oppression, until and unless they demand for accountability from those that wield institutional powers.