Since President Sata assumed state power, his style of addressing the nation and making policy statements had always been through swearing-in ceremonies and cabinet meetings after abandoning the tradition of holding press conferences which allowed interaction with journalists.
Almost one and half months after President Michael Sata withdrew from public appearances, the Head of State yesterday was shown on national television, the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) via the government’s public relations department, the Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS)…albeit without his voice.
Zambians have been anxiously been waiting to hear and listen to President Sata give an elaborate statement on the state of the nation and clear the speculation and innuendoes surrounding his physical and mental status.
From the time President Sata left for Israel on Friday, June 20, 2014 and his eventual return after a two-week working holiday that included a component of health tourism (according to Vice-President Guy Scott), the Head of State has not been heard from.
Zambians have instead been subjected to interacting with the man they elected through still pictures and facebook, the most unconventional means of a leader communicating to his citizens, especially in this part of the World.
Surely, those handling the Presidency will one day; if not sooner, pay the price for mismanaging the Head of State over serious national solemn duties.
The people mismanaging the presidency have knowingly or unknowingly continued committing public relations gaffs and the latest soundless motion pictures of President are the worst form of performance of presidential public relations and we ask with all sincerity, why?
Zambians have been asking with profound concern about what was happening to President Sata, who just a few months ago was on top of things in his state functions.
Zambians deserve better than the unfolding childish and annoying manner State House is handling President Sata and even as we criticize this reckless conduct, it is our hope that the State will listen to the voice of many rather than begin to intimidate and vilify us.
President Sata’s soundless motion pictures sent to ZNBC, we strongly believe, will not stop the speculations and innuendoes that have surrounded the health status of the Head of State.
When Zambians complained that President Michael Sata was not talking to people through press conferences and public meeting, those who follow State House and other Government pronouncements remember how the Head of State defended his style of communicating his policies to the people.
Not only do Zambians remember how the Head of State used the occasions to hit at his political opponents but also ‘undressed’ his cabinet.
Now, the very avenue that Zambians had to listen to the voice of President Sata has been taken away and replaced by irregular statements from his press aide George Chellah and at worst through facebook postings.
The people in the presidency might not like it but they must be ready to answer for their failure to have managed President Sata in a manner that would have given Zambians confidence that the speculations and innuendoes were as a result of nihilistic malice.
It is unimaginable that the press at State House could blatantly fail to marshal the art of presidential public relations in a country that is currently gripped with anxieties and tension that have not only threatened the peace and stability of the country but have had serious consequences on the economic performance of the country.
State House should stop these “ picture but no sound” gimmicks.