VETERAN Politician Vernon Mwaanga has called on Zambians to rise above tribal hegemony and work together to rebuild and make the country great again.

Commenting on recent remarks by Paramount Chief Chitimukulu of the Bemba-speaking people in Northern Province where he was encouraging his subjects to vote for a Bemba president, Mwaanga said tribalism was evil and must be condemned to the dustbin of history.

He stated in a statement that Zambians were stronger working together under the umbrella of the “One Zambia, One Nation” motto just like they did during the struggle for independence.

“I am greatly disturbed and horrified by recent utterances of some political and other leaders, who have been making public statements, which grossly undermine our national motto of ‘One Zambia, One Nation’. Zambians from all parts of Zambia participated in the struggle for independence. They stood shoulder to shoulder to defeat colonialism and apartheid, not only in Zambia, but throughout the Continent of Africa. During the struggle for independence, no one talked about tribe. We treated each other as brothers and sisters, because we understood and accepted that all men and women are born equal in the eyes of God,” Mwaanga stated.

“Our leaders understood that we had 73 tribes in Zambia, who were in it together. There was a passionate belief that we were stronger working together, to rebuild our country, which had greatly suffered under British Colonialism and the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland-1953 to 1963- which was created to serve white interests. We went further, when our leader Dr Kenneth Kaunda, convinced all of us that there should be no revenge against white people who had oppressed us for so long and who had committed so many atrocities against us the black majority. He argued that we should show them that we were better human beings…Let us rise above tribal hegemony and sentiments and work together during this very difficult time of the Coronavirus pandemic, to rebuild our country and make it great again. Tribalism is evil and must be condemned to the dustbin of history. We are stronger working together under the umbrella of ‘One Zambia, One Nation’.”

He recalled how working in the UNIP government was never based on tribal lines.

“President Kaunda appointed one of the best cabinets which was representative of the whole of Zambia. This was replicated in the appointments of civil servants, diplomats and parastatal chiefs. Junior civil servants, who were being appointed into the public service, were posted to areas, other than where their ethnic roots were. The people of Zambia were not tribalists and it was the politicians and other narrow-minded tribal zealots who were promoting tribalism. I was elected twice from Roan with resounding majorities from 1991 to 2001. During President Kaunda’s reign, a senior Minister made a blatant tribal statement and within hours, that Minister was dismissed from cabinet,” Mwaanga recalled.

He wondered what had gone wrong with the country’s political system that had led to divisions among citizens.

“What has happened to our sense of national values and commitment to one Zambia, one nation? Are we suffering from leadership failure? President Edgar is our 6th President since independence. We have had presidents Kaunda, Chiluba, Mwanawasa, Banda, Sata and now Lungu. We have ably demonstrated as a people that every part of Zambia has an inalienable right to produce a President. We have proved that all tribes are equal. That no one tribe is more superior than others. A lot of inter-marriages have taken place across the country and slowly, tribe is becoming a mute issue. Our people in the compounds across Zambia have always lived together in peace and harmony, regardless of ethnicity. What our country needs is a good President, who will serve and be President of all the people of Zambia and not just a few,” stated Mwaanga.