UNZA lecturer Professor Bizeck Phiri has urged politicians to maintain the “One Zambia One Nation” motto as they campaign.

Zambia has previously witnessed elections that have been characterized by tribalism and violence.

In an interview, Monday, Professor Phiri said it was significant that politicians regardless of their party did not divide the nation at the expense of selling themselves to the masses as that had a huge consequence.

“When you talk about the issue of One Zambia One Nation, first of all you need to understand the background, today we are in the 21st century, 2021 and we are going into an election, everyone in all the political parties respective of where they are coming from, we should focus on sustaining and maintaining that ‘One Zambia One Nation’ because we are one nation. There is a lot of history that has happened behind the motto but our founding fathers even the previous leaders had continuously said we remain One Zambian One Nation as our motto so that we do not become divided. So political leaders will have different agendas, will have different ideologies but the focus should be [not] to divide Zambia but to consolidate Zambia as one country, so that is very significant and very important,” Phiri said.

And Phiri said tribalism was one thing that politicians needed to avoid because such was a way of uniting the nation that had enjoyed peace for more than 50 years.

“Any leader irrespective of the political party they belong to, the moment they want to go tribal or they want to go regional, they are going against the country’s principles. So tribalism or ethnicity should have no place in the politics of Zambia, because the moment a leader is becoming tribal, is becoming regional, then that person is not fit to be a leader for Zambia. A Zambian leader should look at Zambians as one and they should forget where they are coming from. Also one of the things that people need to appreciate from a historical perspective, our founding fathers did a lot of things to consolidate the motto of one Zambia one nation, then they started by ensuring they introduced the idea to the young ones as they grew up that they belong together. Children were sent from one province to another to go to school not because there are no schools in provinces where they came from but as a way of integrating each other,” he said.

“In Zambia today because of that process, Zambia is a country where inter-ethnic marriages are very strong. If you look at the names of people today, it’s not surprising to find a person named from two or three ethnic groups, that is as a result of that past culture. So it becomes very difficult to say ‘no me I don’t belong here’. Today its here in Lusaka where people have never been to the village, the only village they only know is Lusaka, when you go to the Copperbelt its the same thing, you go to Southern Province you find people that only know Southern Province, that is also part of the integration that has gone through the history of Zambia. So any leader that begins to talk about ethnicity and tribal, such a leader is not fit to be a leader in Zambia.

He further urged political parties to tame their cadres ahead of this years general elections.

“Our political leaders should irrespective of whether it’s the ruling party or opposition party, they should tame their cadres from their violent activities. This is not a violent nation, this is a peaceful nation. We talk about being a Christian nation, we cannot be a Christian nation where we allow and tolerate cadres fighting others because they belong to a certain political party. Those cadres do what they should be doing, is discuss and convince others that their party is better than others on the basis of ideology not because we have strong cadres and we can kill you, that should not be allowed, that should not be tolerated. Our leaders therefore should tame their cadres not to become violent,” said Phiri