Civil rights activist Brebner Changala has urged President Edgar Lungu to condemn tribalism in the PF administration, saying if not arrested, it will land the country in a serious tribal conflict.

In an interview, Changala said he was extremely worried and concerned with the level of tribal rhetoric coming out of PF officials.

He was commenting on the alleged tribal sentiments perpetuated by PF member, Chanda Nyela, during the ongoing Chilubi constituency parliamentary by-election, which went viral on social media.

“I am extremely worried and concerned at the level of tribal rhetoric coming out of PF leadership and membership. What is worrying more is the deafening silence that is coming from the Presidency, the Vice-Presidency and secretary general of PF,” Changala said.

“I must single out one Chanda Nyela, who has gone public on a video that has gone viral! The police seem not to have noticed, deliberately, what Chanda Nyela is telling the people of Chilubi Island not to vote for a Tonga! Yet the people who are standing there have nothing to do with the Tongas, they are tribesmen of themselves, except that one candidate belongs to UPND. Dr Chishimba Kambwili went and harassed an Indian (national) at the construction site. Within 48 hours, Chishimba Kambwili was arrested by the police for racial remarks, but they have refused to move an inch to arrest this Chanda Nyela.”

Changala observed that tribalism nearly divided the country under Dr Kenneth Kaunda’s One-Party State regime, but that he managed to contain it.

He, however, charged that under President Edgar Lungu’s administration, tribalism was being used as a weapon to win elections and to disadvantage certain individuals and tribes.

“This tribalism nearly divided this country under president Kenneth Kaunda. But Dr Kaunda was a smart politician; he managed to contain it by making every tribe a player in our governance system and it almost died under president [Frederick] Chiluba; Levy Mwanawasa and to some extent, Rupiah Bwezani Banda. Now, under the administration of Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, tribalism is being used as a weapon to win an election and to disadvantage certain individuals and tribes not to ascend to power. The main target is the Tonga-speaking people of Southern Province,” Changala charged.

“What is worrying is that this is now coming out more often and prominently since PF is losing ground, politically, and economically. They have realized that people are slowly drifting towards UPND and this is when they have energized their cadres to disparage Tonga-speaking people, the UPND and its leader Hakainde Hichilema. Now, that is criminal!”

And he urged President Lungu to come out in the open and condemn tribalism, charging that the Head of State should not take joy in the criminal activities of his members.

He feared that tribalism was going to land Zambia in serious tribal conflict if not stopped.

“This tribalism, which is a tramp card for PF, is going to land this country in serious tribal conflict and a meltdown in our national unity if it’s not arrested. It is incumbent upon President Edgar Lungu, his Vice, Madam Inonge Wina and the entire PF as a party to condemn in the strongest terms, their members, who are actually advocating for tribalism, which they are celebrating because it wins them votes in their strongholds. I am sounding a warning to the Republican President not to take joy in the criminal activities of his members. He must come out in the open and condemn this tribalism, which has become the pillar of the PF administration. They must do away with it at all costs,” Changala urged.

He insisted that Zambia was a unitary state and that any tribe could rule the country.

“It is not just in Chilubi Island, in many by-elections, they talk about: ‘Tonga this, Tonga that’, and the leadership of PF doesn’t seem to see anything wrong with that. This country is a unitary state; a Lozi can rule; a Bemba can rule; a Tonga can rule; a Kaonde can rule this country, if he is supported by the people of Zambia. Not segregated through tribal sentiments as we are seeing it from PF. They have shackled UPND with a tribal tag and there is no truth in that nonsense. Bembas are going round town marrying Tonga women. They are not seeing tribalism when it comes to love affairs! They only see tribalism when it comes to public service, when people want to come and take over the public administration of our country,” said Changala.