Socialist Party leader, Fred M’membe, says President Hakainde Hichilema owed the people of Luapula an apology over the statement attributed to one of his officials saying Luapula Province was suffering from physical poverty and “poverty of the mind”.
According to the audio recording that has gone viral, Education Minister, Douglas Syakalima, repeatedly referred to the people of Luapula as suffering from both physical poverty and “poverty of the mind”.
M’membe in a statement issued in Lusaka on Monday said Hichilema had chosen to publicly remain silent on Syakalima’s derogatory remarks against the people of Luapula Province.
He said this was not surprising because it was allegedly in line with his outlook and character.
“There has been a chorus of condemnation from various groups in the country, with 15 members of parliament from Luapula Province petitioning the Speaker of the National Assembly over Syakalima ’s insulting comments during a parliamentary committee meeting recently,” M’membe said.
He said whatever the context or circumstances of the situation, it was highly offensive, reckless and inexcusable for Syakalima to utter the words that he said in the committee meeting.
M’membe said there can be no compelling reason why Syakalima should be allowed to speak in such a derogatory and dangerous manner and get away with it.
“But what is even worse is Hichilema’s deliberate silence over these derogatory remarks against the people of Luapula by his own Minister of Education. Is what Syakalima said to the Parliament Committee about the people of Luapula an official government position hence the silence of Hichilema? he said.
M’membe said Hichilema must know that his silence on this matter speaks volumes about his commitment to curb such divisive rhetoric in the country.
He said the Head of State must also know that keeping quiet in such moments made one to become or look like an enabler especially if the person was a leader.
“So if Hichilema is as outraged and offended by Syakalima ’s derogatory comments like all of us, let him take full responsibility and publicly apologize and censure Syakalima,” M’membe said.
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