Former presidential spokesperson Dickson Jere has offered some fire fighting expertise to State House in the face of the mayhem caused by President Edgar Lungu’s ‘ubomba mwibala alila mwibala’ proclamation.
Jere, who served as Fourth Republican President Rupiah Banda’s spokesperson has touched up his notes with personal experiences.
BELOW IS HIS FULL STATEMENT:
About Presidential Idioms and Proverbs
By Dickson Jere
Once upon a time, Father Bwalya was a pain in the flesh of President Rupiah Banda. He could really rile the President with his baseless personal attacks. So, in trying to hit back, the President attacked Father Bwalya by saying “he as a father without children” and went on to say Fr. Bwalya was in fact kicked out of the Catholic Church. But what the media picked and twisted was that the President insulted Catholic priests who are called Fathers but have no children.
The Church was riled with the President statement so much that State House had to apologize. The media forgot (assuming they did) the last part of the statement in which the President explained his attack on Fr Bwalya. As press aide, I was bombarded with phone calls especially from the catholic faithfuls who thought the President had offended them.
Fast forward, another Presidential speech mishap happened (it comes with a territory).
President Banda attacked UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema for not taking his wife in public prior to the 2011 polls. The President said; “nanga ndiwe mwenye mambala…” which loosely translated to; ‘why hiding your wife from the public, are you Indian?’. Within minutes, the President realized his statement meant for HH could in fact be offending to the Indian community in Zambia. He immediately ordered me to release a statement apologizing to both HH and the Indian community. And I did and the matter quietly died.
And so Presidential statements can be misconstrued at times especially if one does not know the context in which they were issued. It is, therefore, prudent to quickly come out and explain the context without justifying it. No need to spin as it will only escalate the debate. Apologies deflates enemies at times!
When the context is misconstrued, defending may not be a good option although it depends on the circumstances. Thinking of “ubomba mwibala alya mwibala “ idiom.
Anyway, I was just remembering my lecture notes on crisis communication management!