Never has this coun­try been so bom­barded with fake news Op­po­si­tion politi­cians have gone out of their way to spon­sor and pay for so­cial me­dia groups that are fully ded­i­cated to spew­ing hate­ful mes­sages and lies. This is done from the safe com­fort of for­eign domi­ciles and in anonymity to avoid de­tec­tion and sub­se­quent le­gal ret­ri­bu­tion. Th­ese same politi­cians have bought lo­cal me­dia out­lets and in some cases pay for air time on ra­dio and tele­vi­sion to con­vey hate­ful pro­pa­ganda with in­cred­i­ble im­punity. Any­body is fair game for at­tack as long as the at­tack is seen to pro­mote op­po­si­tion in­ter­est. So­cial me­dia has truly be­come the Wild West where any­thing and ev­ery­thing goes, as if there is no reg­u­la­tion or con­trol to en­sure de­cency, hon­esty and truth. That the on­go­ing daily dosage on al­leged cor­rup­tion by gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials that the na­tion is be­ing fed on is not merely a ques­tion of sour grapes is quite ob­vi­ous. It is a planned pro­gramme of ac­tion that has been drawn up de­signed to desta­bilise not only the gov­ern­ment but to cause civil dis­obe­di­ence in the coun­try. It is a mixed breed of all shades of char­ac­ters who have taken ad­van­tage of, but opted to abuse the free­dom of speech ob­tain­ing in the coun­try. Theirs is a multi-pronged me­dia pro­pa­ganda war. The per­pe­tra­tors of this pro­pa­ganda have not only em­braced the print me­dia, though not wholly, but so­cial me­dia that ap­pears to be their favourite do­main – for ob­vi­ous rea­sons. But hope­fully, their so-called abuse of so­cial me­dia will soon be over. And the sooner this is done the bet­ter. We are glad that Gov­ern­ment is look­ing at en­forc­ing laws against cybercrime, in­clud­ing on­line false­hoods. The un­for­tu­nate part is that th­ese lies on so­cial me­dia have no breaks. As In­for­ma­tion and Broad­cast­ing Ser­vices Min­is­ter Kam­pamba Mu­lenga has warned, it was just as crim­i­nal on­line as it was in hard copy to write and pub­lish lies pur­ported to have been au­thored by an­other in­di­vid­ual. Surely, when th­ese char­ac­ters re­sort to is­su­ing and fab­ri­cat­ing sto­ries on­line with a seal of the Chief Gov­ern­ment spokesper­son so as to pit the pub­lic against the Pa­tri­otic Front lead­er­ship, then ac­tion should be taken. We want to see Gov­ern­ment take a proac­tive cam­paign against those abus­ing so­cial me­dia than merely promis­ing to take ac­tion. We are all aware of the tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vnces that have made it easy for any­one to pur­vey lies and all sorts of non­sense on­line, smug in the be­lief that they would not be iden­ti­fied. But we all know, as for­mer UPND deputy spokesper­son Ed­win Lifwekelo notes that all this is part of a smear cam­paign tar­geted at State House oper­a­tives and min­is­ters. The bot­tom line though is that any­one who re­sorts to un­der­hand meth­ods when the sys­tem al­lows open dis­cus­sion of ideas, does not mean well. If and when the exe falls them, they should not cry foul, and we do hope that the ap­pro­pri­ate au­thor­i­ties in­clud­ing Zicta will ex­er­cise their au­thor­ity and ex­per­tise to save the peo­ple of Zam­bia from this evil.

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