The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has called on the Patriotic Front to provide effective leadership against tribalism by publicly censuring and reprimanding party leaders and members who engage in hate speech.

HRC chairperson Mudford Mwandenga stated in a statement, Monday, following recent tribal remarks by senior PF members against the opposition UPND, that hate speech against others was a recipe for the country’s instability and noted that the ruling party must play a leading role in ending the practice.

PF members Professor Nkandu Luo, Bizwell Mutale and Chanda Nyela recently made tribal remarks against Tongas in separate video clips that have been widely shared and condemned by the majority of Zambians, including some ruling party members, although indirectly.

“The ruling Patriotic Front (PF) Party leadership is particularly called upon to provide effective leadership against tribalism by publicly censuring or reprimanding their leaders and members engaging in hate and tribal remarks. Tribal remarks constitute hate speech and are also prohibited under the Public Order Act because in addition to being a violation of human rights, it is a recipe for breach of national peace, unity and stability,” Mwandenga stated.

“The Commission calls upon everyone not to sacrifice respect for human rights, national peace, unity and stability for selfish and unsustainable political gain.”

He stated that hate speech based on one’s ethinic orientation was a violation of human rights.

“The Human Rights Commission (HRC/Commission) calls for any end to continued hate speech based on one’s ethnic or tribal orientation because it is a violation of human rights. The smear politically motivated campaigns targeted at individuals on account of their tribe or place of origin is discriminatory and unconstitutional. The right to equality and protection against any form of discrimination, including based on one’s tribe, is guaranteed under Article 23 of the Constitution of Zambia, Chapter 1 of the Laws of Zambia and must be respected by everyone,” Mwandenga stated.

He warned that tribal hatred could reach a threshold of a crime against humanity if no practical steps are taken to curtail it.

“Perpetrators of tribal hate speech must be reminded that tribe, like race, is a birth right and therefore, so fundamental a human right that its violation may ignite deep rooted negative consequences for the country. In some countries, tribal hatred caused widespread discrimination, conflict, civil war and genocide. It is for this reason that tribal hatred and discrimination should not be tolerated or seen as a matter of mere politicking. The Commission calls for the upholding of the ‘One Zambia, One Nation’, in words and practice for continued national unity, peace, respect and protection of everyone’s rights and freedoms,” stated Mwandenga.