Zambian cops arrest journos for calling President a drunkard

ZAMBIAN police have arrested and detained the Zambian Post newspaper’s managing editor Joan Chirwa-Ngoma and reporter Mukosha Funga for alleging President Edgar Lungu was spending too much time clubbing and drinking.

The two had been jointly charged with Eric Chanda, leader of the 4th Revolution opposition party, for defamation, in connection with an article published on May 9, 2015 in The Post Newspaper, written by Funga.

It quoted Chanda as saying, “President Edgar Lungu should be the last person to warn against clubbing because the first assignment he undertook after taking over office was to go to Mfuwe to socialize and play pool”.

After about 40 minutes of detention, Chirwa-Ngoma and Funga were released on bail of 20 000 kwacha each.

The two left Lusaka Central Police shortly after 12:00 hours in the company of Post editor-in-chief Fred M’membe and lawyers Ngosa Simuchela and Chisuwo Hamwela.

Earlier on Tuesday, Post news and deputy managing editor Joseph Mwenda who had also been summoned for questioning, was released after he told police investigators he had been on leave at the time the story was published.

In the original story on May 9 last year, Funga wrote that Lunga had warned his newly-appointed legal advisor, Sukwana Lukangaba, to avoid the temptation of going clubbing.

“I am putting all my trust in you and so I will be there to guide you,” Funga quoted Lunga as saying then.

“One thing I would like to warn you against is socialising. As a lawyer, you will find the temptation is great for you to go clubbing and being the new kid on the block, as it were.

“What these people will do is simply use you to scandalise State House, use you to scandalise your integrity. You will become the subject of gossip and falsehood. So it is only tempting to go out there, but try as much as possible to stay as close as you can to yourself, and those you can trust,” Lungu moralised.

Funga quoted Chanda as saying: “First of all, fatherly advice should be welcomed by any citizen of this country but surely, everybody will bear me witness that comrade Edgar Lungu should be the last person to warn his aides against clubbing.

“Because it is not too long ago when he himself as President, as custodian of State House, went, in the name of a retreat, to Mfuwe to socialise and club, play pool and all sorts of things,” said Chanda.

“But how will the youngsters, his aides that he is warning, how will they take the warning?” he asked.

“Leadership in itself must be by example. Comrade Edgar Lungu must lead by example. He must show the righteous way before even considering to warn or to counsel his aides.

“He should come out and tell the Zambian people if he has changed his lifestyle. Tell him that if he is still drinking, we want to know as Zambian people … Has he stopped? Let him tell us.”

“… what we need from comrade Edgar Lungu is to openly declare to the Zambian people that he is no longer a fan of clubbing and socialising, that he is a changed man and in the absence of that, we shall treat his warning to his aide as mere rhetoric and the joke of the day. So tell comrade Edgar Lungu, if a leader has no good morals, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to change and guide his followers,” he said.

Chanda added that Lungu should have also warned his aides against corruption. – ANA