Voice notes are circulating on social media from some PF functionaries who have come out to declare war against those that are behind the arrest of Infrastructure Development Minister Ronald Chitotela whom they say is being victimised because of his tribe.

These voice notes have been posted in WhatsApp groups where there are State House officials, Cabinet Ministers and the top brass of the Patriotic Front leadership, so we are very certain that the powers that be are fully aware of what we are talking about.

The sycophants are claiming that State agents are targeting Bembas with arrests in a deliberate ploy to weaken the Bemba political influence in the country. They have since vowed that if the criminal charges levelled against Honourable Chitotela are not dropped, the entire Bemba land will rise and make Zambia ungovernable. “PF cannot be allowed to govern Zambia without influential Bembas in government because the party was founded by a Bemba,” they say.

But let’s pause there and explain one sensible thing that these sycophants are pointing out. They are also saying that Honourable Chitotela is not the only one who has been involved in government deals. They say, several other Cabinet ministers who were previously poor are now rich through corrupt activities, and as such, it is wrong to single out one man when the whole PF is corrupt. On that one, they have a very good point, but look at how they spoil that good point with provocative tribal sentiments.

“Good morning members of the Patriotic Front, I am sure all of us have the passion and desire to see that this party continues to be united. But what is happening to Honourable Kaoma Chitotela is not acceptable! We all know the people who are in government today are making deals. We know the kind of lives these ministers lived before they became ministers in 2011.”

“Let’s be honest. Today, their lifestyles are there for everyone to see. They swim in money; they even boast that they have too much money. This means that if we are to talk about corruption in our party, it is morally wrong to single out one person. This one is not acceptable. As people from Luapula, what we are going to demand now is a lifestyle audit for all ministers so that we can see who is a thief!”

“I want to tell you that this battle, we will not allow our brother to fight alone. For me, as a person who comes from Luapula Province, this battle we will fight it as a province! I can assure you that we are going to fight as a province. Fighting Chitotela is fighting Bemba land, and we are not going to allow this. I will lead the campaign to ensure that we defend him.”

“This morning I have been talking to a number of chiefs from Northern Province and I have been educating them that this fight is beyond Chitotela. Ulu lubuli lwesu, baletulwa (this is our fight, they are fighting our tribe). We must also fight back! People are having ‘dark corner’ meetings, scheming on how they will skin alive our brother! I want them to know that we are up to the game.”

“Without northern power there is no America. We are going to shut down Lusaka! You people are playing with Bembas. Leave Chitotela alone, we are warning you! Lusaka will be rendered ungovernable. You have touched Chitotela, you have touched Chishimba Kambwili, you have touched Harry Kalaba, and now KBF, this is playing with the Bembas. We will see if you can run PF without the Bembas. This party was started by our father, who is Bemba, but now you have started playing with the Bembas, you will see! This move has annoyed us, the Bembas, because you are trying to disempower us, but you will not succeed.”

These are the voice notes that we are referring to, and they have been shared widely among social media users. Now, before we even talk about how dangerous these views expressed above are, let’s just imagine that it was Tongas saying this about their tribe. Police would have already arrested a few Tongas in connection with these recordings and they would have been charged with a cocktail of offences.

In January, 2018, President Edgar Lungu went against the Public Pensions Act and illegally fired PSPF Chief Executive Officer Dr Richard Mwiinga; not a single Tonga commented against this clear violation and abuse of the State institution. But the Bembas are saying if you touch our Bemba brothers in government (whether they are thieves of not) we will make Zambia ungovernable – and we are tolerating that. Why?

This is the reason why we always say the tribal tag that has been bestowed on the Tongas in this country is really unfair. We can’t have a situation where tribalism is only when it involves a Tonga or a Lozi. Our brothers and sisters from the North must not consider it a privilege that supersedes the law when one is born from that region. The people of Southern and Western Provinces are not any less important than their fellow citizens from the East or North. We are all Zambians and there are not a set of laws that only apply to non-Bembas.

If Honourable Chitotela is being treated unfairly, let his sympathisers demand justice without bringing his tribe into the picture. We want the minister to clear his name not because he is Bemba, but because he is innocent. And by the way, we are not the ones who said: “out of every 10 thieves, six are Bembas!”