The Comms Dilemma of Legislator Jay E. Banda… a Zambian ´disappearance story´

Ed: The Comms Dilemma of Legislator Jay E. Banda

… a Zambian ´disappearance story´

Amb. Anthony Mukwita-26.05.24

Africa Freedom Day is a day celebrated across the continent as a huge day because many countries by this date had obtained independence from colonialists, Zambia included.
In 2024, however, the day was overshadowed by the ´disappearance´ of a key lawmaker in Zambia Jay E. Banda, a 39-year-old independent MP from Petauke, Eastern Province.
Facts from the police at the time I was penning this short essay were that Mr. Banda remained missing and no information had reached anyone on whether he was safe or harmed.
In news gathering and even diplomacy, which I have ably studied, there are two main important news values editors look at to determine whether a story is worth pursuing—proximity and prominence, the rest falls into place.
Therefore, when news emerged that a 4×4 vehicle was found abandoned with the engine running and two mobile phones were found, tongues got wagging from main street to high street.
The tongue wagging reached a crescendo once it was revealed that the 4×4 vehicle belonged to MP Jay E Banda who has had a fair share of news coverage for one reason or another, including getting into the cross hairs of the parliament leadership and coping himself a suspension from the house.
Politicians in Zambia did what politician’s continental or beyond would do; kept a Virgil at Ibex police station where the vehicle was kept.
News hungry media set up platforms to follow up and update Zambia on the rare disappearance of the Pep or politically exposed Jay Banda and asked uncomfortable questions.
The police, however, showed disdain and contempt that the media were doing what they are trained to do, ´ask questions´ and politicians were doing what they are sworn to do, ´politick´.
The general practice in media infact is that, when something like the disappearance of a prominent MP occurs, media houses set up camp at various posts such as the police and the home of the missing person to refresh the story.


They would also set up camp at a collapsed mine if miners were stuck underground or camp by the lake if a boat had sunk with several people aboard. It is not nuclear science.
The best practice for the authorities, knowing people’s anxieties at such times would be to set up a communication centre, update the nation on what progress is being made to bring the situation under control, not to condemn the media for asking questions and politicians for playing politics.
It was disheartening in this Jay case to see authorities take offence at questions being raised by media and politicians on the disappearance which under news falls under an ´unusual occurrence ‘also known as the ´man bite dog´ theory.
Mr. Jay Banda is a prominent Zambian politician who has in a rare case disappeared—unusual and prominence.


At this stage it may be too early to establish what happened serve for the abandoned car and gizmos.
We all await updates from authorities. Speculation can also be thwarted if only authorities set up a ´comms centre´ to give regular bulletins to the media.
Also bear in mind the fact that in Zambia, unlike Colombia and other countries, people do not just disappear, when they do, people ask questions.
As an ordinary citizen, I pray for cool minds as this story unfolds; authorities must investigate, and journalists must ask questions. The two can co-exist.

Also note that once you remove MP Jay E Banda from the political layer, he is a family man, his family is anxious to know about his safety or lack of it. We pray for a positive outcome.

Amb. Anthony Mukwita is a published author whose books are available in local and international bookstores, physical and online.

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