In our previous editorial comment, we categorically emphasised on the issue of tribalism and challenged the top two political parties in the country to be magnanimous and pass legislation to criminalise tribalism – if indeed they despise it as they claim. As expected, people turned a blind eye to that opinion.

But it has come to pass that tribalism is being advanced by those who should be in the forefront condemning it – both in the ruling and opposition parties. Of course the onus is greater on the ruling party to lead by example and come out clean on tribalism. Unfortunately, we are seeing the total opposite of this.

Remarks coming from President Edgar Lungu’s campaign in the just ended Chilubi parliamentary by-election, where he debated tribe rather than development, go a long way in dividing a nation rather than uniting it.

“Davies Mwila has already mentioned. This party (UPND) can only be led by a Tonga, this is what we heard. These things are documented, it is not tribal talk, no. When Mr Mazoka died, may his soul rest in peace, there was a clear pronouncement by people who were members of the political party saying the next President should be Tonga because the late Mazoka was Tonga. Don’t argue, we have the evidence… I am saying this because Mr Mazoka was not a tribalist but the one who has brought tribalism is ‘that gentleman’ but we all know they are saying we are inciting tribalism, we are giving out the perspective. I will not support anyone in PF who supports tribalism, no!” said President Lungu.

Now a President cannot be more divisive than this, and this is a demonstration of how bad a leader Mr Lungu is. When a President goes tribal in his campaign for re-election, citizens must know that there’s no way he can unite a nation. How can one tongue talk ill about his competitor’s tribe and at the same time claim that it doesn’t support tribalism?

President Lungu must be reminded that the Patriotic Front which he leads condemns such kind of divisive leadership. The party Constitution is very clear that such lapses in the leadership qualities are grounds for removal from office. It is not us who are saying these things, this is what the PF constitution dictates against a leader who preaches tribalism:

Quality of leadership:
(i) In addition to fulfilling the membership requirements as provided in this Constitution, a leader must be selfless and prepared to spread the benefits of independence to all citizens without regard to tribe, race, colour, sex, religion, region of origin.

(ii) In order to have the above qualities realized, a leader must not: (a) use his official position personal for private gain or benefit or practice favouritism contrary to the purposes for which he holds the office; or (b) engage in any corrupt practices or receive any secret income, accept bribe or participate in any criminal activities.

(iii) A leader who indulges in any of these prohibited practices shall be deemed to have himself created Conditions for his removal from office.

Regulations of the party, quality of Leadership:

24. A Party leader must never use his official position for his own personal gain or private
benefit, nor practice favouritism, nepotism, tribalism, or engage in corruption contrary to the purpose for which the responsibility was entrusted to him.

Discipline and sanctions:
26. A member of the party who violates the party constitution, regulations, or rules or does
not fulfil the decisions and directives of the Party or misuses his party or State prestige of the party or State, shall have sanctions applied against him.

29. Offenses against the party shall include: (a) violation of a provision of the Constitution, regulations, objectives and programmes of the party (b) breach of rules of the party;
(f) engaging in any fraudulent or dishonest practices which tend to embarrass the party, or
participating in any act of bribery or corruption.

These are the values which, according to the PF constitution, are unacceptable. Now if these values are not reflected in the Head of State, his minister and those in the mobilisation committees, where is the ruling party governing from? Which document is driving their agenda? This is how a chipante pante government is formed.

The question citizens must ask is, can a President who endorses tribalism like Mr Lungu take action against himself? It’s not possible! Any time from now, during this current sitting, President Lungu will be going to Parliament to talk about national values, who will he be fooling? What values can he preach when he is failing to uphold the values enshrined in his party Constitution?

The PF constitution goes further to say bribery, corruption and any other fraudulent activities are forbidden, but where would the PF be today if they abstained from corruption, theft and bribery? How many PF officials and Cabinet ministers would remain in the party if they removed all those who are guilty of these breaches?

This is the reason why we say the PF is a government of thieves, for thieves by thieves.