FORMER UPND vice-president Canisius Banda says any chief who promotes the interests of another ethnicity other than his or her own must be dethroned.

And Banda says there is nothing wrong Paramount Chief Chitimukulu did by asking the people of Northern Province to emulate Tongas in the 2021 general election because that is the duty of any traditional leader.

In an interview, Banda argued that chiefs were tribalist by definition, and that their role was to promote their ethnicity, which was why traditional leaders must always use the language of their ethnicity when performing official duties.

“By definition, a chief is a tribalist. Any chief that promotes the interests of another ethnicity other than his or her own must be dethroned. So, there is utterly nothing wrong with what Paramount Chief Chitimukulu Kanyanta Manga Henry Sosala said or did for his ethnicity apart from the fact that he said it in, or punctuated his speech with English. Whenever performing his official function as chief, he must always use the language of his ethnicity, and this applies to all other chiefs. Look, the Chitimukulu has his own people; he’s a chief, isn’t he? He is connected to his people by blood. His jurisdiction is his people. So, it is within his jurisdiction and the interest of his ethnicity that he promotes the interests of his own ethnicity. There is nothing wrong with the Chitimukulu urging his people to turn up in large numbers and vote, and there is nothing wrong with him telling his people to compete in elections and see his people support those, who compete because he is speaking for his people,” Banda said.

“He cannot speak for Lozis, can he? No, he can’t, and he cannot speak for Tongas. So, he is speaking for those he presides over, his ethnicity. So, if he is speaking for his ethnicity, he’s sticking to his lane and nobody should be hurt by that, that’s what a chief does. A chief is not a president; a chief has a tribe and whatever he does, his walking, his speech and his dressing…it should all reflect his ethnicity. Okay? So, you should also tell him not to speak in English when he addresses his people. You should say, ‘Canisius Banda says ba Chitimukulu Kanyanta Manga, when you are performing your official duties, stop using English. Use your ethnic language, use Ichibemba’.”

Banda observed that Zambia was a multi-ethnic society in which every chief had to strive to promote the interest of their own ethnicity, adding that any traditional leader who failed to do this deserved to be dethroned.

“There are ethnicities in this country; there is no way a Tonga chief is going to be promoting the interest of Chewas. Chiefs have got their own jurisdictions and they have their own job descriptions and they must speak to those. Do not mistake a chief for an MP or a councilor or a Republican President. If a President was talking about promoting a Lozi, saying only a Lozi should become President, that would be wrong. But if a chief, a Bemba chief is saying, ‘you Bembas must stand, and you Bembas should vote for a Bemba when he stands’, that’s what a chief does,” Banda said.

“Zambia is a multi-ethnic society. So, if a Bemba person stands in an election, other Zambians will look at him and say, ‘ababene aba baiminina nomba aba bushe balikwata amano, bushe nabeshiba bwino bwino ifyakutungulula abantu (is this person vying for this position reasonable enough? Does he have any idea on how to lead people)?’ And then, they will evaluate for themselves whether or not the guy qualifies to govern or not, because voting in the end is about merit; do you deserve? Do you respect other people? Are you wise? That’s why voting is not just done in Kasama where chief Chitimukulu is, it is done countrywide. This means that the views of one chief are neutralized by the views of the rest of the country. So, if somebody from a particular ethnicity stands, it’s not just that ethnicity, which will vote. And you will find from the same ethnicity, even if the chief says, ‘vote for this one’, they don’t do that, they go against the chief and vote according to their convictions.”

He insisted that every chief needed to promote the interests of their own people.

“A chief must promote the interests of his or her ethnicity, that’s the responsibility of a chief. If he begins to speak on behalf of another ethnicity, such a chief must be dethroned,” said Banda.