Rainbow Party General Secretary Wynter Kabimba has laughed at President Edgar Lungu’s pronouncement on the need to remove the reference of “tribe” on the Zambian National Registration Card as a way of fighting tribalism.

When President Lungu visited the Rwandan Genocide memorial site in Kigali last week, he observed the need for Zambia to avoid the tribe reference on the national identity cards.

But reacting to the proposal, Kabimba in an interview said that the Head of State exhibited a total misunderstanding of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and further reminded the President that there is no “tribe” reference on any Zambian NRC.

“The pronouncement by President Lungu to the effect that we should remove the reference to your tribe from our National Registration Card (NRC) which is not even there anyway, as a way of fighting tribalism in our country and hence avoid the experience of Rwanda, is a complete misunderstanding of the history of genocide of Rwanda that took place in 1994 where more than 800,000 people were killed. There is a big difference between tribal identity and tribal domination. What led to the genocide in Rwanda was not because people were identifying themselves according to their tribes, it is because one tribe tried to dominate the other tribe. That was the genesis, that was the cause, that was a trigger point about that conflict,” Kabimba explained.

“But if we are going to go by what President Lungu said, it means you should ban traditional ceremonies. Because traditional ceremonies are tribal groupings. But there are tribal groupings that are promoting the cultural heritage of a tribe of one ethnic group, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that in my view. There is nothing wrong with a people of one tribe, one ethnic grouping, grouping themselves to celebrate or observe their cultural practices or cultural heritage. What is wrong is for one tribal grouping or one ethnic grouping to appear to be special and above everybody else. What is wrong is for one tribal grouping or one ethnic grouping to want to dominate the political or economic space over and above the other groups. That is what is wrong; and how do you fight that? you do not fight that through NRC because here in Zambia, you can tell a mans origin or province just by their name. If somebody says to me ‘my name is Lubinda’ I know that he is from Western Province, because there is no Lubinda in Northern Province or Luapula Province.”

He said Zambia was facing governance challenges because, just like in many African countries, the governing party was suffering from intellectual bankruptcy.

“So intellectual bankrupt is one of the diseases that politicians in Zambia are suffering from or insolvency. It is a major disease amongst African politicians or Zambian politicians that they have nothing to say to the Zambian people. They can’t say if you vote for me, this is what I will do for all the people in the ten provinces of this country. Zambians are facing a number of problems and these problems cannot be solved by a number of proverbs that you give in local language because these problems are real. These problems are not going to be solved by changing the format of your National Registration Card. These problems are not going to be solved by setting one tribe against another. So they must understand the genocide in Rwanda in this context because domination of one grouping of people over another will always result in resistance of the people that are dominated,” he said.

“So this thing which has been thought by President Lungu, the government must sit down and think deeply about it. You can’t have a government which, on the other hand says ‘you must teach local language in schools’ and on the other hand says ‘you should not tell us what language you speak’. How ridiculous can that be? So that is not what happened in Rwanda. What happened in Rwanda was that the Hutus where trying to dominate the Tutsis and the Tutsis fought back. That is what resulted in genocide. So the Zambian people must be very careful about these politicians that have got no message apart from churning out tribal sentiments. And President Lungu himself must set an example in that area because the law itself without exemplary leadership in PF will not change anything. So if this volcano was to erupt, it would erupt because of us politicians, not the Zambian people. They are very innocent.”

Kabimba observed that Zambians don’t really bother about the tribe of the next person, but it was the politicians who were promoting tribal intolerance.

“One can argue that the tribal sentiments that we have seen now which President Lungu is reacting to with his government is not coming from the ordinary people, it is coming from the politician. If you went round the compounds, you go to Kalingalinga, Chibolya, and Matero; people attend each other’s funerals, people work together in the markets, and people attend churches together. All that irrespective of tribe, there is no conflict. So the slogan of One Zambia Nation One Nation is being practiced by the ordinary people of Zambia to build unit for this country,” he said.

“It is the upcoming politicians that have no issues and programs to sell to the Zambian people that are breeding tribalism and tribal sentiments against each other. There is nothing else that they have said to the Zambian people that if they were in government, this country will be better than it is today. President Lungu himself in 2015 when there was a by-election in Eastern Province, he uttered a statement that ‘votelani uyu wamuvumo imozi’ (vote for your fellow Easterner) that is a tribal remark and I condemned it at that time and I still condemn it now that the president should not be the one championing or to be heard to be making tribal remarks or remarks promoting one tribe against other ethnic grouping.”

He recalled some of the hateful statements made by the PF officials against the Tonga people.

“We have heard recently when the former minister of foreign affairs resigned, we have heard some traditional rulers in Luapula saying ‘if you insult him, then you are insulting me or you are insulting all the people of Luapula’. There is no logic in that. But what is causing this is lack of ideologies amongst politicians. We have political parties that have been formed, established that do not have any ideological leaning on which to base their social and economic programs. So the easiest trump-card they want to use is making tribal remarks,” said Kabimba.

“We had an unfortunate incident if you remember in 2016 of one person who has now been promoted to be Defense Minister saying that if the people in Southern Province want to win an election in this country, then they must marry so many wives and breed amongst themselves so that they can out number the other ethic groupings. That is not politics but you can see that this is a man who has nothing to say to the Zambian people. He is bankrupt intellectually.”