By Dickson Jere
In crisis communication, we are taught to firstly study and understand the genesis of the crisis before you respond. Dissect the issues. Failure to understand the issues may just perpetuate the crisis you intend to douse – like is the case of the charlatan called Seer 1.
His message did not talk about the RINGS. But a genius somewhere coined the linkage and it has now gone viral! Some leaders have even started defending themselves about the RINGS, which did not originate from Seer 1.
The charlatan did not accuse the Government of the Republic of Zambia but unnamed individuals in government. Who then should respond and defend the unnamed leaders? Is it the individual leaders themselves or government or indeed the ruling party? This is where crisis communication becomes tricky and difficult. Mind you, Seer 1, never named anyone. It is the media linking the rings to individuals.
And some of these individuals are responding and giving explanations. This brings me to the official response from the Minister of Religious Affairs Rev Godfridah Sumaili. Did she understand the ongoing PR crisis before responding? Her reaction is headline in almost all the dailies today – elevating the story and giving it new life and credibility. Her response also gave the charlatan mileage! Just what he wanted. To be taken serious! I will not be shocked if the story will hit international media with that official response.
If I was asked to react, my response would have been crisp. Let us wait for the 20 days ultimatum to end and see what Seer 1 – the charlatan – is all about. And dare him to name names! But again only those individuals can respond. It is not the Government of the Republic of Zambia which went to look for charms or whatever it was. It was individuals.
Unlike other PR problems which are usually self-inflicted like the recent ZESCO debacle, in crisis communication the issues are outside the organization’s own making. You cannot control what Seer 1 will say next. Therefore, responses require to be measured! He has absolutely nothing to lose. And I bet he is enjoying it!