Through out the Patriotic Front campaign in all the previous election years, we have heard them preach against tribalism. In their preaching against tribalism, they label opposition political parties, especially the UPND, as culprits. But the truth is that the ruling PF is just as tribal as the UPND, if not worse.
As a matter of fact, the PF tribalism is so dangerous that it is responsible for dividing the country because it is fuelled by factionalism. What we have in Zambia – and this has been the case for many years – is a faction of Northerners and Easterners wishing to perpetuate the monopoly of the power to govern.
The reason why the UPND is perceived to be a tribal party is because, although there is no such written agenda, the founders of the party have endeavoured to challenge the factionalism perpetuated by the Northern and Eastern regions. In the process, the opposition party has fallen in the trap of regionalism itself.
But if the truth is to be said plainly, whatever tribalism the UPND is guilty of, the PF is just as guilty. The same reason why a northerner cannot be accepted to lead the UPND is the same reason why the PF cannot accept a Southerner to lead the ruling party. It is tribalism fuelled by a fierce battle of factionalism.
But this cannot be left to continue, especially as we head into next year’s election campaigns. The PF should not be pointing fingers at the opposition over a ‘crime’ that they are guilty of themselves. They must first address the tribalism which is inherent within the PF itself. On the other hand, the UPND, which is the biggest opposition party in the country should try harder to lose the tribal tag. They must do introspection and try to find out why some ordinary Zambians don’t feel at home in the party; why they don’t feel sold to the UPND manifesto.
The people who came up with the 50 per cent plus one vote threshold in the Constitution were trying to address this. They were trying to say “let’s not have a minority leader who can get a few votes from one region and goes ahead to rule the country.” Instead, they wanted a leader who would be able to unite the whole country.
Unfortunately, tribalism has been looked at with a very casual approach, whereby the politicians who are gaining mileage out of this don’t see how it is now penetrating the workplace and the damage it is causing to national building.
It is for this reason that we hold the view that these two major political players who are aspiring to lead this country and have the numbers in the National Assembly must introduce legislation to criminalize tribalism. If both the PF and UPND truly detest tribalism, let’s see some bipartisan support for this kind of legislation.
Zambians must say no to this type of politics where big tribes try to dominate minority groups because this route will see this country denied an opportunity of being led by selfless, devoted citizens who hail from the so-called small tribes. It must stop before it engulfs our country. There is not a singe province in Zambia that belongs to one tribe. In Southern Province, it’s not only the Tongas that live there, there are Toka-Leyas and others. In Western Province, it’s not only the Lozis, there are also Mbundas who hail from there. Northern Province is not for Bembas, there are Mambwes and the Namwangas who can claim ownership of the region too. It is the same in Eastern Province where the Ngonis, Chewas, Nsengas and Tumbukas comingle without one tribe claiming to own the region.
Citizens must now see that politicians, for selfish interests, will always try to use tribalism to advance their political agendas. If they refuse to move towards the legislation of criminalising tribalism, people must take this as confirmation that in the eyes of the politicians, tribalism is a necessary weapon for campaigns. They want to manipulate citizens based on this tribalism factor, when in fact, they are fueling it.
Like we have stated before, it cannot be that since Mr Hakainde Hichilema is the biggest threat to President Edgar Lungu’s stay in power, then every Tonga is, by default, a member of the opposition. That is impossible. But the PF has succeeded to paint this picture. It is for this reason that Tongas in the civil service work in fear while those outside are denied jobs simply because of their surnames.
The danger with what the PF is doing is that once the tables turn, the surnames they have been victimising for so many years will want to revenge. There will be massive job losses from government targeting Northerners and Easterners. Is this the Zambia we want to build? Those in power must learn to treat others the way they wish to be treated when they fall from grace.