from ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – ZAMBIA’S ruling party has warned that culprits could be jailed for a video circulating on social media, which the party said defames President Hakainde Hichilema.
The United Party for National Development (UPND) accused members of the opposition of circulating the video, whose content had not been ascertained at the time of publication.
However, a fake video has trended online recently, purporting to be of Hichilema criticising the leadership in neighbouring Zimbabwe after the two countries had a fallout in the wake of Zimbabwe’s controversial general elections in August.
Batuke Imenda, UPND Secretary General, has warned members of the public against “abusing President Hakainde Hichilema through the publicity of fictitious, malicious articles against the Head of State.”
“These rogue elements are creating and circulating fake videos which mimic the president with an electronically generated voice intended to mislead the public,” Imenda said.
He warned, “The (ruling UPND) party wishes to warn that anyone behind the said video will pay heavily as soon as the law catches up with them.”
Imenda advised members of the public against circulating the video which he said is a clear misrepresentation of Hichilema’s persona.
Following the video circulating, UPND made a fresh accusation that this was part of a plan by the opposition to subvert the democratically elected government.
Hichilema and UPND have been in power since 2021.
The Patriotic Front (PF) is the main opposition but it has been at loggerheads with the new administration, which it accuses of being dictatorial.
Hichilema was elected on a pledge to uphold human rights and late last year, it was announced a law criminalizing the defamation of the president would be repealed.
However, arrests on such grounds have continued in the Southern African country.
Imdenda said when Hichilema reaffirmed his commitment to upholding free speech as guaranteed in the constitution, this was to encourage civic engagement in the political space without abusing others.
“Those who choose to abuse the President through hate speech, defamation or misrepresentation should know that their place is in jail,” Imenda warned.
– CAJ News