PF media director Sunday Chanda says the tribal remarks made by three senior members of the ruling party were made in their personal capacity and do not represent the PF’s position.

And National Guidance and Religious Affairs minister Reverend Godfridah Sumaili says her ministry is deeply concerned with the persistent incidences of tribal remarks.

Three party officials – Professor Nkandu Luo, Bizwell Mutale and Chanda Nyela – issued tribal remarks against Tongas over the last few days during the on-going Chilubi constituency parliamentary by-election campaigns, sparking outrage in the opposition camps.

“…Mu kwai, ine nshikwete ama shiwi ayengi. Nachi balila pa kui lumbula ati ndi mu Bisa, ndi mu bemba. Kanshi ku mwesu, kuli ngana ne miteto yesu, tatwima ati twaya muku pyanika umuntu, fino ne nkandu Luo, ne mu Bisa, ne mu Bemba nafwa, abati iyo ka sendeni umu tonga, ku Monze ese a pyane Nkandu Luo! (I don’t have much to say, I started by introducing myself as a Bisa, I am Bemba. In our land, in line with our tradition, you don’t just pick anyone to succeed me as Nkandu Luo, a Bisa, a Bemba. If I die, you can’t go and get a Tonga in Monze to succeed me),” said Nkandu Luo on the campaign trail on Chilubi.

Her remarks followed PF national mobilization chairperson, Mutale, who vowed that Zambia would never be ruled by anyone hailing from Southern Province.

“You are waiting for a Tonga president? It will never happen! And I want you to get it straight from me: there will be no Tonga president in Southern Province who is going to save Zambia come 2021. You have President Edgar Lungu, the President of all the people, President of the country, not the tribesmen! If you want to be your tribesmen president, we can give you a seat as an MP for one of your homeland, if you want to stand, we can allow that. But to be a Tonga president for the country? It won’t happen, not today, not tomorrow!” insisted Mutale.

But speaking when he featured on 5 FM’s Burning Issue programme, Thursday, Chanda insisted that the PF did not support tribalism.

“Even after President Lungu has run his race, in 2026, tribalism is not going to be a measure, it is not going to be a factor on who succeeds or who takes over from President Lungu because that is against the DNA of the PF. However, we know very well that as we co-exist, and different political parties in this country co-exist, and we conduct our politics, we know that there are certain political parties that have existed on the premise and on the strength of their regional belonging. Now, the three individuals (Prof Luo, Mutale and Nyela) that you have referred to made statements in their individual capacity. Their statements do not reflect the position and the principle that PF has taken on this particular matter, I will make that very clear,” Chanda argued.

“Let me state as a matter of fact that tribalism, irrespective of who the perpetrator is or who the champion is, whether tribalism is coming from the UPND, or tribalism is coming from UNIP or whether it’s coming from the Patriotic Front, tribalism is an evil that we must confront as a people and we must agree that where we have reached as a nation, there must be no room in our political space for tribalism and no one must be seen to either champion tribalism and neither should anyone be seen to rise on this platform of tribalism; use tribalism as your launch pad; you use tribalism to appeal to an area or region you come from so you can ride on that to lead this great country. We must agree that that must never form part of our conversation, especially where Zambia has reached today. Firstly, let me also make it clear that the position of the Patriotic Front and the position of His Excellency, the President, is that we do not tolerate tribalism. The Patriotic Front, as a party, has never promoted tribalism, even in terms of its internal democracy.”

He, however, explained that Mutale’s tribal remarks had been taken out of context as the video circulating was doctored to suit a narrative.

“Let’s deal with the specifics, the hottest issue has been this is what Bizwell Mutale said, now Bizwell Mutale is a son of the Tonga-speaking people, Bizwell Mutale is a product of Pemba District; Bizwell Mutale was speaking to his relatives; he was speaking to his uncles and his cousins; he was speaking to his own people, for lack of a better term, and Bizwell Mutale did not speak from without, Bizwell Mutale was asked a question, the question was about ‘the Tonga president.’ We know very well that where we have reached as a country, there must never be talk of a ‘Nsenga president,’ ‘a Bemba president,’ ‘a Ngoni president,’ ‘a Luvale president,’ ‘a Tonga president,’ where we have reached as a country, we must be talking about a president who is national in character and what Bizwell was saying, which has been blown out of proportion and out of context by our colleagues to suit their narrative…what he was saying to them is that, you are not going to get a tribal messiah. If anyone is going to lead this country, that particular individual must espouse national character,” argued Chanda.

“There is no single tribe in this country that can produce a president; there is no single tribe in this country that must produce a president because we have ‘One Zambia, One Nation.’ So, when you go to Kanchibiya; when you go to Chinsali and you find people; you go to Eastern Province and you find people saying, ‘you want a Ngoni president,’ you must say to the people in Eastern Province that, ‘there will never be an Ngoni president in this country; there will never be a Nsenga president in this country; there can only be a national president, a president who espouses national character,’ and that is what Bizwell was communicating. But, of course, the video that is circulating has been edited, has had some things cut out; the best that can be done is for that full interview to be made available.”

Meanwhile, Rev Sumaili, in a statement issued, Thursday, stated that the trend of tribal remarks was worrying because that was against the country’s cherished national values and principles which form the foundation of the nation.

“All citizens should always strive to promote peace and co-existence. Citizens are encouraged to adhere to national values and principles as espoused in Part II Article (8) of the Republican Constitution,” stated Rev Sumaili. “We should all uphold and promote morality and ethics, national unity, human dignity and non-discrimination. We all have a duty to ensure that the nation continues to enjoy tranquillity and remain united and peaceful under the motto ‘One Zambia One Nation’.”