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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Politics of Disinformation in Zambia


Katele Kalumba,
The concept of disinformation is generally applied in American English to refer to propaganda.  Propaganda is politically speaking , State –sponsored false or deliberately misleading information. The case of Saddam Hussein of Iraq stocking Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) was a classic example of disinformation. We may be driven to conclude that disinformation is rested upon some grand illusion, often power. Facts cannot dismiss illusions of power. The illusion, the power of America, becomes a privileged premise, immune to evidence. The world believed in American Intelligence capabilities. When these were proving questionable, new definitions of threats were piled upon the original disinformation to justify a war. Disinformation passes for eternal truth marshaled up by presentation of a patriotic passion which creates idiots out of those who appear to stand in the way.
The Germans refer to political numbness  as “Verdrossenheit”, It is a disconnection from politics arising out of disinformation such as the how you manage information about the health of a sitting President in Zambia. It is not peculiar to Zambia. It is public knowledge now that J.F.Kennedy’s back pain or whatever it was was carefully managed. Political power and traditional structures of representation are  brought into question in practices of disinformation. Electorates, as shown by the just ended January 20 2015, registered “voter discontent” in Zambia evidencing the fact that they are at best uninterested and at worst sullenly hostile to those in power or in fact, perhaps have no choices even among those who seek power. This “apathy” is happening amidst a flurry of political parties, NGOs and the media.

The fugitive politics of our NGOs and media illuminate nothing, only rendering public life, as a theatre of catatonic experiences of an infantile kind. The fanciful labels of the mushrooming NGOs like Anti-Voter Apathy, new Rainbow Political Party among many others names attached to misrepresented phenomenon, take no account of the circumstances in which those “bored sick” electorates live. The image disinformation produces is like the stupefied existence of our African City, daily swelling in size like a disgusting poster of an African politician. Each crafted word of “virtual truth” about voter apathy like our many poverties, is superimposed upon the inner turbulence of individual personalities creating a numbness and torture in John Ryan classical “Blame the Victim”. These are industries of blame, that manage us like golems, through a failure of will by those that have the possibilities open to them to earnestly work together to empower the sprawling images of the poor, helping them to rise  above basic want. This means respecting what they know already about the mess, our system of government has created.


March 2015

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