Zambian Opposition Leader Charged with Calling the President a Potato

Potato Gate

Zambian police have arrested and charged Frank Bwalya, head of the Alliance for a Better Zambia, with defamation after he called President Michael Sata the worst name he could think of: a potato.

The opposition leader allegedly described President Michael Sata as “chumbu mushololwa” during a live radio broadcast on Monday. Chumbu mushololwa, which translates into sweet potato, is a potato that breaks when it is bent and is used to describe a dic-tater that doesn’t listen very well to advice.

Apparently the potato comment crossed the line and Zambian police decided to arrest Bwalya and charge him with defamation of the president. If convicted, Bwalya faces a maximum jail term of five years. No one refers to the president as a potato and gets away with it!

But Bwalya, a former Catholic priest and former supporter of Sata, isn’t the only politician who is guilty of bad-mouthing presidents. Apparently Sata did the same before he came to power:

“President Sata is the same old man who was on all radio stations defaming former presidents Banda and Mwanawasa and nobody arrested him,” said Eric Chanda, the secretary general of Alliance.

Maybe nobody arrested Sata at the time, but talking smack about politicians in Zambia is a major faux pas. In 2005, a Zambian man, Edward Longe, was sentenced to nine months in prison for insulting then-President Mwanawasa in a bar. And in 2002, a newspaper editor was arrested for calling Mwanawasa a “cabbage”.

Note to self: do not refer to Zambian politicians as vegetables. Fruits are fair game though.

Via: Times Lives

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