Zambian politician Frank Bwalya charged with defamation for calling President Sata a potato

Mr Bwalya allegedly called the President a "chumbu mushololwa" on the radio.

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The Independent Online

An opposition politician in Zambia has been charged with defamation because he reportedly compared President Michael Sata to a potato.

Speaking on the radio on Monday, Frank Bwalya allegedly described President Sata as a “chumbu mushololwa”.

The Bemba phrase connotes a sweet potato that breaks upon being bent, and a person who does not take advice.

Mr Bwalya, a former Catholic priest and ex-supporter of Mr Sata, could face a maximum jail term of five years if found guilty.

He is currently party leader of the Alliance for a Better Zambia (ABZ).

Elias Chipimo, leader of Opposition National Restoration Party (NRP), defended Mr Bwalya by calling for his release and describing him as a fearless politician.

He also stressed that “chumbu mushololwa” was not an insult, but said that it “describes a person who lacks flexibility and who, like a potato, will only break when you try to change their fixed ideas,” he said.

ABZ secretary-general Eric Chanda told AFP: “President Sata is the same old man who was on all radio stations defaming former Presidents Banda and Mwanawasa and nobody arrested him.”

State media in Zambia has reported that Deputy Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo said Mr Bwalya had been arrested for making defamatory remarks against Mr Sata.

Mr Bwalya’s arrest comes after police questioned Nevers Mumba of the Moverment for Multiparty Democract (MMD) for allegedly calling the President a liar in September 2013.

In 2005, a Zambian man, Edward Longe, was sentenced to nine months in prison for insulting then-President Mwanawasa in a bar.