TRANSPARENCY International Zambia says it has noted with concern the growing trend by Cabinet Ministers to unguardly and recklessly engage in tribal talk, whose only sole purpose is to fuel hatred for other tribes.
And Lifuka says it is disappointing that Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya is advising headmen to use fraudulent means of obtaining social cash transfer funds.
In a statement to News Diggers, Wednesday, TIZ chapter president Rueben Lifuka said the recent tribal remarks made by Siliya, who is also Information Minister, that Tongas had risen against Easterners, was not only unfortunate but emblematic of the toxic nature which Zambian politics has assumed in the past two years.
“The tribal sentiments reported in the News Diggers paper of 28 October 2020, that are attributed to Honourable Dora Siliya made while on a campaign trip to Sinda in Eastern province, are not only unfortunate but emblematic of the toxic nature that Zambian politics has assumed in the last couple of years. We note with concern the growing trend by Cabinet Ministers to unguardly and recklessly engage in such tribal chauvinism whose only sole purpose is to fuel hatred for other tribes. It is astounding to observe the apparent lack of sensitivity on the part of Ministers who are members of the Cabinet, which in the aftermath of the 2016 general elections, set up the Commission of Inquiry on Voting Patterns and Electoral Violence,” Lifuka said.
“It is becoming apparent that President Lungu and his cabinet has not seriously engaged with the findings of the Commission and the many recommendations made to avoid a recurrence of the rather sad events of 2016. We want to remind Hon Siliya and all other elected leaders who find it convenient to appeal to tribal instincts of the electorate, that they are creating a ‘beast that will come to devour them. ‘The Commission of Inquiry in its January 2019 report, observed that ‘the elections held from 2006 to 2016 have culminated into a vivid voting pattern, which has seen the nation divided into two distinct voting blocs, one in the north-eastern and the other in the south-western part of the country. This phenomenon has diminished the spirit of the ‘One Zambia, One Nation’ motto and is a threat to national stability’.”
Lifuka said it was disappointing that 56 years after independence, political leaders still saw tribe as the main selling point for their preferred candidate.
“It is difficult to fathom that 56 years after independence, our leaders still see tribe as the main selling point for their preferred candidate and what Hon Siliya is reported to have said to the people she was meeting in Sinda, in fact validates some of the petitioners who appeared before the Commission of Inquiry. The Commission received numerous submissions that politicians involved themselves in tribal campaigns, which significantly influenced voting patterns. Petitioners submitted that candidates and their supporters engaged in tribal and regional based campaigns – such as promoting the “son of soil, tribal cousin and wako ni wako” syndrome,” Lifuka said.
“The Commission observed that campaigning along tribal lines encouraged divisions and is likely to generate political conflict on tribal lines. When politicians use offensive language in reference to other tribes, they provote tribal hatred. Further, the Commission noted that when a candidate loses an election on tribal lines, the atmosphere created is like the whole tribe to which the candidate belongs has lost. This collective loss and winning syndrome leads to prolonged post-election tension, characterised by animosity between the losing and the winning tribes.”
Lifuka urged President Edgar Lungu should take action on such reckless statements by his Cabinet Ministers before they trigger electoral violence in the coming elections.
“Transparency International Zambia wants to remind all political parties of the provisions of the Constitution in Article 60(3) (a) which provides that: ‘A political party shall not be founded on a religious, linguistic, racial, ethnic, tribal, gender, sectoral or provincial basis or engage in propaganda based on any of these factors’.Political parties and political leaders, should not be the purveyors of hatred, confusion and tribal conflicts. Common sense dictates that our leaders, particularly those privileged to serve as Cabinet Ministers, should be bridge builders, Ambassadors of peace, beacons of hope for a united Zambia,” Lifuka said.
“We need to invest in peace now and not when there is total bedlam in the run up and aftermath of the 2021 elections. It is unbecoming if not criminal for Cabinet Ministers or any other political leaders as well as Chiefs to allow themselves to become Architects of electoral violence. If our leaders find it easy to use demagoguery aimed at appealing to the raw emotions of their supporters, should we be shocked when political cadres find no remorse in hacking, maiming or demeaning their perceived political enemies? Where do we draw the line and stop this rot which could be perpetuated for generations to come? President Lungu should not be indifferent to these actions and reckless statements by his Cabinet Ministers, he needs to bring them in line before these words serve as a trigger for electoral violence in the coming elections.”
And Lifuka said it was disappointing that Siliya advised headmen to use fraudulent means of receiving social cash transfer funds.
He urged President Lungu to consider taking appropriate sanctions against Siliya for what can be considered to be misconduct on her part.
“The second issue of concern raised in the article is that of impropriety on the part of the Minister. Hon Siliya, is purportedly reported to have advised headmen on how they can fraudulently find themselves on the list of recipients of Social Cash Transfer. This will be a damning indictment If indeed it is true that Hon Siliya basically provided tips to Head men on how to beat the system. It is inconceivable that a Cabinet Minister, all for purposes of electioneering, can knowingly and willingly scheme to deprive people who genuinely deserve to receive social cash transfer,” said Lifuka.
“The question that begs an answer is whether this is the way that people who do not deserve to receive government support like FISP, find themselves on beneficiary lists? What guarantee do we have that the COVID 19 economic empowerment schemes are not being implemented in a similar manner where less deserving individuals are given priority? Is this what District Commissioners have been doing to facilitate headmen or indeed party cadres to receive government support which they are not eligible for? Zambia has yet to recover from the scandals that beset the Social Cash Transfer which led to donors withdrawing their support and these actions do very little to rebuild donors’ trust. We urge President Lungu to consider taking appropriate sanctions against his Minister for what can be considered to be misconduct on her part.”
Meanwhile, a concerned citizen, Thomas Allan Zgambo, has written a letter of complaint to Inspector-General of Police Kakoma Kanganja to express his disappointment of Siliya’s tribal-filled utterances, saying that the PF’s tribalism is “building a monster, which will consume us.”
“I write in my individual capacity as a bonafide citizen of the Republic of Zambia lodging an official complaint against Hon Siliya. I am in possession of an audio recording of the said Hon Minister encouraging hate speech against Tongas, who are also bonafide citizens of the Republic of Zambia. Sir, I am not Tonga, but an Easterner, but I am Zambian. This hate speech has been going on for some time. We have Ministers like Hon. Christopher Yaluma and Prof Nkandu Luo preaching hate. Sir, we are building a monster, which will consume us, action should be taken, the earlier, the better,” urged Zgambo, in his letter that was acknowledged and received at Service Headquarters, Wednesday.