FINANCE Minister Dr Bwalya Ng’andu says leaders must just see tribalism in the words or actions of others and remain completely blind and deaf to tribalism in their own words or actions.
Debating President Edgar Lungu’s address to the House, Dr Ng’andu said the scourge of tribalism cannot be fought by merely pointing accusing fingers at others.
“Mr Speaker, the increasing polarisation of the people along ethnic or more precise, tribal lines, is of major concern to our President and indeed to most of us as it is a slur on our collective and individual conscience. Many have rightly spoken to condemn it but again the moral responsibility of overcoming tribalism is not the sole responsibility of government, it rests squarely on the shoulders of all of us who call ourselves leaders… We cannot fight the scourge of tribalism by merely pointing accusing fingers at others respite, it’s not competition to see who is the least tribalist among us. This is about moral leadership and the moral pedestal belongs to those who, with good conscious have elevated themselves above pettiness or tribalism,” he said.
“Mr Speaker, a call from his Excellency the President to those of us who are privileged to hold positions of leadership is that we must not only inspire our followers to follow us, we must inspire them to follow us in denouncing violence, embracing unity, civility and peaceful co-existence through our example, we must inspire our followers to embrace those values that shape us into one cohesive people working towards achieving a common destiny.”
The Minister added that political leaders should not be selective about which violence is condemned and condoned.
“Mr Speaker, it is important that I should underscore the fact that even as government is doing its part, all of us who are in leadership positions both inside and outside this House, have a duty and a role to play in the wider transmission and adoption of these national values. The President is urging us to be catalysts in promoting peace, contributing to stability and preventing political violence. If we believe that political violence is wrong, and unacceptable, the moral burden we carry as leaders is to prevent it or extinguish it through the force of our own example. This means that as leaders, we cannot be selective about which violence we condemn and which violence we condone,” said Dr Ng’andu.
“We can’t advocate in one instance peaceful political engagement and at the same time speak words which disparage, disrespect, slander, humiliate and insult our political opponents. The words we use as leaders not only reflect the values we hold but they can potentially induce violence, hatred among our people instead of promoting unity and peaceful co-existence.”