By Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D. Professor of Sociology

“And Chama said the UPND in Southern Province were polygamous by nature and “may be by having so many children, one day after 100 years, they may lead the country, but not under Hichilema.

If at all they will ever be in power, may be a hundred years from now, they are polygamous by nature so may be as they have more children they can be in power. But under the leadership of Hichilema. I don’t think it will happen,” he said. (The Post, June 9, 2015, p.8)

These are the incendiary offending remarks that have apparently stirred passions of tribalism so much among some Zambians today that there are even reports of a small group of the Tonga in Southern Province defiantly talking about secession. The purpose of this article is to provide some advice and perspective in the form of the Zambian tradition of mphala, insaka, or indaba on the bigger picture about our beloved Zambian nation. First, I will briefly discuss the offending remarks by the PF Secretary General Davies Chama. Second, I will discuss why Zambian politics may be reaching a dangerous stage. Third, I will discuss the bad news or even potentially tragic news for those all over Zambia who have contemplated secession in the past, the present and in the future. Fourth, I will discuss the great news about our beloved country of Zambia and how anyone can be elected the President of Zambia from whatever tribe they belong. Last, I will mention a few Kaundaisms that all political leaders including the current and future Presidents of Zambia will find very useful in leading the great nation of Zambia.

Mr. Davies Chama’s Tribal Remarks.

Mr. Chama’s remarks were offensive not just to Tongas but may be to Zambians all over the country and the world. The best thing would have been for Mr. Chama to issue an apology but he has vehemently refused. What I found surprising was that the offending remarks were buried deep into his long statement about the PF swallowing MMD and the UPND. This suggests to me that he may not have fully meant the remarks to be harmful. His remarks were actually a form of taunting after someone has won a contest. He may have been carried away in the moment of exuberance and PF party chauvinism after electoral triumphs. This does not excuse Mr. Chama’s remarks. Taunting is unprofessional and is poor sportsmanship. In recent Zambian elections, whenever a particular party has won, the cadres of the winning party afterwards taunt the ones from the losing party sometimes resulting in violence. Taunting after winning elections has to stop. May be one of the reasons we are having so many problems with cadres, some political violence, and talk of secession is that we have too many young people in Zambia and too few elders like veteran politician like Mr. Vernon Mwaanga.

Zambian Population

The population of Zambia is 13 million. The proportion of the country that is under 14 years old is 46.7%, those between 15 and 24 years old are 20%, those between 25 to 54 years old are 28.4% and but those between 55 and 64 years old are only 2.9% and those above 65 years old are even smaller at 2.4%. The age statistics that are the most important in explaining both Mr. Chama’s remarks and how Zambian politics may be in danger of becoming dangerous is that Zambians that are younger than 30 years old may be about 70% of the population which is about 9 million young girls, boys, women and men. And yet those who are over 55 years old are only 2.9% which is only 377,000. Therefore, there are fewer elders to day in Zambia to teach younger people about our political history, customs, and our culture perhaps due to the high death rate of older Zambians who are over 55 years old because of the HIV/AIDS epidemic since the 1980s. Urbanization also takes its toll as the 36% of the urban population is rising. This means increasing numbers of Zambians lose their connection to elders, rural areas where the source, strength and origin of our Zambian traditions are the strongest.

The Bad News about Political Future

When there is political frustration in a young population, certain people in Zambia who might feel they are not getting a fair share of the resources might contemplate revolution and violence as the sure and quickest way to getting what they want. This will not work in Zambia and may not be working very well in many countries where people have tried revolutionary violence. Peaceful secession is very rare. The vast majority of Zambians today have access to the internet through cell phones. There is Facebook, email, twitter, web pages, blogs, and Instagram. We read and see exciting images of the Arab Spring revolution in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria and many other places.

It is tempting for many younger Zambian leaders to assume we will just import whatever is abroad to solve our problems. While some of the information is good, some or much of it may be unrealistic and just plain dangerous and destructive for the nation. This author is advocating peaceful solutions for the Zambian nation not because he is a coward, scared and deathly afraid of revolutions but because I know we have a very peaceful country. We do not need revolutionary violence. I just love and cherish the peace that we enjoy and I am sure many Zambians would like to maintain it too. Many younger Zambians may have no idea how badly people are suffering with violence and chaos in the Eastern Congo, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Iraq, Central African Republic, and many other places. I will discuss more of this later about Kaundaisms.

The Great News about Our Country

The greatest news about our country is that we are probably the most integrated in the world. Our founders were intelligent enough to create the foundation. This is our greatest strength that very few countries in Africa and the world have. Even some of the most powerful countries such as the United States, the oldest European and other countries are not as integrated as Zambians. We Zambians do not have the deeply entrenched deadly hatred and segregation of one tribe against another of the 72 tribes. Our founders made sure that we loved each other. This does not mean we have no problems or internal political differences. I had to laugh when there was news about Tonga secession. I was thinking if Southern Province seceded, I would need a passport to go to Mwanamayinda on the Kafue Road on the Mazabuka road. I am a Tumbuka from the Eastern Province. I have a sister who is married to a Tonga man who is my mulamu (brother-in-law) and I have more than 8 nieces and nephews and grand nieces and nephews in Southern Province. Would they suddenly be in another country? All of us Zambians have close friends, blood and marriage relatives in regions and provinces all over Zambia in the 72 tribes.

Any Zambian Can be Elected President

Because we are so integrated, that’s why anyone in Zambia from any tribe can be elected President. The talk that a Tonga, Lozi, Kaonde, Namwanga, Chokwe and any member of the 72 tribes cannot be elected President is just not true. Who would have thought President Obama, a black American, would become the President of the United States which has deeply entrenched racism against African-Americans? This is the advice that every political party and individuals who aspire to be elected President of Zambia should know. If you are a Presidential candidate who is Bemba, Lozi, Ngoni, Chokwe, Nkoya. Lozi, Tonga, Soli, Lenje, Lamba, and many others, don’t waste your time campaigning in your province or region. You already have that vote in your pocket. You need to have a good manifesto, organization on the ground, and then travel to all the other provinces to personally appeal for their votes. If you are genuine, Zambians can see you are serious, fair, determined, you have a vision for all Zambians and you are genuinely non-tribal, Zambians will vote for you irrespective of your race, ethnicity, tribe, man or woman. This is why any Zambian man or woman can be elected President of Zambia.

Kaundaisms and One Zambia One Nation.

The younger generation of political leaders today in Zambia might take the peace, tranquility, the One Zambia One Nation we enjoy for granted. That is the most dangerous attitude. There are two of the many Kaundaisms that might help all of us Zambians which we should always remember. First, if you advocate revolutionary violence, when the country of Zambia is up in flames, you won’t enjoy whatever you thought you will achieve. President Kaunda addressing a rally in the 1970s even said that once the whole country is engulfed in violence, thieves, saboteurs, those who are holding dark corner meetings, political opportunists, tribalists, racists, and even those engaging in corruption will not be able to enjoy their spoils. Second, if you as a President unjustly politically verbally or physically attack or imprison a particular opposition group leader(s) or political party leaders, the supporters of that party or group will hold a grudge against you and you will be creating more martyrs and enemies as a political leader or President. His advice was that it was best as a political leader to be fair minded, make just decisions, follow the law, be reconciliatory, be kind, and respect others including the opposition because you yourself as a leader might be out of power one day.

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49 COMMENTS

  1. Yes it is.I agree with the author that our youths need to be given a lot more of the background where Zambia is coming from. Our first generation leaders coined the one Zambia one nation not just for rhetoric, it was purposeful; there was always an inherent danger that ethnicity would take root before we fully understood that mother destiny had bound us together as Zambians and we needed to fully integrate. One way towards that was cross breeding via cross tribal marriages.
    Then came MMD which bunched everything UNIP did as worth of consigning to the dust bin of history. Then PF came and took advantage of the lost knowledge, the ignorance of the youth from where Zambia was coming from and told them what they wanted to hear, and, bang, tribe started ridiculing tribe. Yes tribalism is…

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    • Nice try and I really hope that the author is genuine. I still doubt it that PF leaders really mean it. I think its more like damage control. You are not dealing with children here. The president (Mr Lungu), Chama, Kambwili and Mumbi Phiri all made similar tribalist statements at will.

      They have not been apologetic at all. Mr Lungu is only making a U-turn now because he has realised that he cannot intimidate the Tonga people and he is trying to save face. Of course its not too late to fix the issue. The question is, is he (Lungu) going to be genuine about it? He himself has made numerous ridiculous like, “I will fall on you like a ton of bricks”, “those who dont like my leadership should leave Zambia”, etc.. The leadership is rotten, period!!

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    • I strongly disagree with the writer of this article on issues of tribes.

      Lozi is not a tribe. Lozi is a NATION of over 34 tribes of Barotseland. The over 34 tribes of Barotseland is what constitutes Lozi as the lingua franca. Kwangwa, Luchanzi, Mbowe, Mbunda, Mbukushu, Nkoya, Subia etc are what is Lozi.

      The “one Zambia one Nation” comes from the union of Barotseland & Northern Rhodesia on 24th October 1964. KK dictator of 27 years unilaterally abrogated the union treaty, in his Matero Speech of August 1969, “I wish to inform the nation”.

      Please, don’t mislead the people that Lozi is tribe when its NOT, but the lingua franca of Barotseland.

      Zambia is TWO “countries” of Barotseland & Northern Rhodesia, that’s a fact!

      The Skeleton Key
      ~206~

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  2. If that is what chama said them it’s not offensive. It only sounds offensive because it’s truth and truth by nature hurts. How do you explain a situation were by 99percent vote on trybal lines. It therefore goes to say if their own has to be in power they need to multiply through polygamous and each family should grow by 20 every year so that after 100years they will have enough numbers to ursher in their own. Chama does not need to apologize for saying the truth.

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    • Chama is only trying hard to help disband this culture by SP of always voting on tribe. This is what has costed hh presidency of you dont know. Try putting someone who is not tonger as leader of upnd and see how things will change. Lets say hh swarps with Edgar all SP will shift support to pf and pf will still maintain membership because pf is now becoming a national party .

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    • PF always wins in Luapula and Northern provinces with similar margins as does UPND in its stronghold…despite campaigning in all districts in Luapula HH got only 10 000 votes there. Early days of MMD, which was lead by Chiluba biggest vote came from Southern province. Just wait and see what the results for the Bangweulu by election will be

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    • These are the facts.

      In 2011, UPND only got less than 2 000 votes from a million votes of Luapula and Northern Provinces. This can’t even be a percentage.

      So who is trybal?

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  3. Pf Wil Never Be Voted In S Provice Becoz Of Davies Chama ‘s Behavior , He Has Made Work More Difikot For Pres. Lungu , Alred U So The Voting Partner For The Last Election , Now Wit This Issue On Top , Ma Problems . 2 . I Dont Why The Very Chama Has Failed To Apologise . He Thinks Pf The “Bemba Party” Wil Be There For Gud , 3 . I Dont Why The Pres. Lungu Has Failed To Decipline Chama , This Is Shows That They Have Got The Same Idea , If Mwanawasa Was The President , I Dont Think Chama Cud Stil Hold That Post , Thats Total Rubbish , If Its There Mbuyas , Yes , But Luk , There Is A Very Big Gap , And Here Is Chama Who Doesnt Want To Appologise , Aleimona Ukucejela .

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    • Man since when did Southern province vote for PF? This is what chama referred to that if southern province continues voting for only a Tonga -HH, then the chances of winning any election in Zambia are so slim—- this is very true. I concur with Chama for he said the thruth and no apology is needed.

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    • @ Davy Chiyambu, Chama is a spokesperson for the PF not Bembas. The sooner you make that distinction the better for everyone. Bembas and Tongas do not hate each other as some f.ools want to make it out. It is only a creation of those with a political agenda. As for name calling, Bembas have been called thieves for as long as I can remember. So if Tongas are called Kachemas so what. It is after all much better than being called a thief. There are i.diots in every tribe but that does not mean we should demonize the entire tribe.

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  4. The issue of Davies Chama is all about the Bemba Vote. If you’ve seen how the watchdog has been reporting about Banda pushing away Bembas in PF, you can then see the desperate attempts being made. What the UPND and there members in southern province are trying to do is force Lungu to fire Chama and justify it that Bembas are being pushed away in order to get a sympathy vote.
    Besides, Lungu cannot penetrate southern and thats why he has not being there. He knows that Northern, Luapula, Muchinga, Eastern, Central, Lusaka and copperbelt is guaranteed victory. He then attacks western and north western were he can spoil the party for UPND.

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    • Bemba’s are extremely tribal and will always vote for their party, PF.

      It’s symbol is a tubulu paddling on Luapula river cos the monkeys are finished and only alternative is to fight with crocodiles.

      In the days of Sata, they would say twalavotela chipuba chesu. Now they say, twalabika Lungu aikatilile po.

      In Bangweulu, it’s unlikely that UPND will even get 0.5%. Bemba trybalizm is rabid!!

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    • @ Tungweto how many people voted PF in Southern province in January 2015? Ati ‘Bemba’s are extremely tribal and will always vote for their party, PF’. You hypocrite!

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    • Choma constituency gave Edgar more than 20 000 votes in 2015. Bangwelu reciprocate by giving UPND at least 17 000 votes in coming bye election!!

      Bemba countrymen prove that you are diametrically opposed to trybalism by proving that you have capacity to vote for PF and UPND as happened in Mulobezi and not like in wako ni wako Petauke where Jamison Siliya was given 96%.

      Bangwelu is the Bemba litmus test of trybalism. Nayo nayo….

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  5. My dear Muslim brothers and sisters, stop wasting you glycogen on something as meaningless as fasting, the moon has always been there, it never disappeared, it only becomes visible when it reflects light from the sun, there is no God behind it.

    Africans really need to give up childish superstitions and embrace reason and Science.

    There is no God.

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    • For you to say there is no God it means you struggle with the same fact the Lord God Jehovah is there. The word of God Jehovah says ” The fool says they is no God” Man repent before its too late.

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    • A fool says in his heart that there is no God (Psalms 14;1). I sympathize with such myopic and simple minded people like that. My friend repent before it is too late. Seek God while He can be found. Seek for Him while He is near. The moment He will be far away from you it will be difficult to find Him. No matter whether you cry in your mother tongue or in your PF tongue, you will never find Him.

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  6. Yes Tongas vote on tribe. It is being insincere for the Bembas to pretend that they do not vote on tribe, has any Bemba individual ever voted for a Tonga or Lozi candidate? Never! It is the same with the easterners (wako ni wako), they only vote for one of their own. Just a over a couple of weeks ago the president while he was in EP stressed hard on this wako ni wako thing urging them to vote for easteners. When the Tongas do the same everybody cries foul like some biased bloggers on this report. Please leave Tongas and Lozis alone and for once be honest with yourselves. We know what Bembas are struggling to achieve, to dominate and impose themselves on the rest of other tribes.
    This report should have been specific and point a finger at the culprits not beating about the bush.

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    • By the way, we don’t have a Bemba president at the moment. Edgar Lungu is from Eastern Province! I don’t know why you are so obsessed with the Bembas!

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  7. Aikona! Lungu should fire Chama and appoint another Bemba of needs be! The id*ot is a liability! I am Bemba and will not tolerate these immature tribal talks!no tribe is inferior in my beloved country! That Chama should have learned from Rwanda if he had half a brain, but alas!!!

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    • Can you say the same to Tongas who always insult Bembas? they released a song in southern saying Bembas are like satan. Did you hear Bembas crying as they are doing? No man, let your bululu respects other tribes if they want to be respected period.

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  8. My brother Professor Tembo I find your article to be a mixture of truth and falsehood. First and foremost, if you are not related to these politicians, I will be happy if you directed your words to Lungu and team for they deserve them best. Secondly Zambia stopped being peaceful decades ago for peace is not just absence of war. We have been under moral, economic, etc. wars for years.Thirdly, our main problem is that Zambia was founded on deception such that today we have a seriously distorted history under the guise of “one Zambia one nation”. This is why people like you think still think Lozi is a tribe as if you being a Zambian that is your tribe!Lastly, unfortunately the Zambia you are talking about will forever be a failed project. That is the sad reality, like it or not!

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  9. This whole issue has been blown out of proportion because of politics and the ugly head of tribalism. Remember how Mwanawasa insulted the Bembas but the issue was not overblown even when he was from the Bantu batotwe and repulican President for that matter. Chama is not even in government.

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  10. I agree. Integration, Young Population and Urbanisation will save us from tribal zealots. The names like Hamaambo Mulenga, Hambulo, Katati, Siacheye Phiri, Siame Mwilola and Mukuka Zimbas will not allow tribal sentiments to overrule particitc nationalities. If one goes to Mpika, Serenje and Mkushi, Tongas and Lozis have settled down and integrated peacefully with local Bemba and Lalas. What one HH needs to be elected is to appeal naltionally rather than provincially to the electorate and not incite one group against another. Speeches like “taking copper money from Solwezi to develop Chinsali cannot make one a national leader”. HH has failed to cultivate a picture of a national leader.

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  11. I concur with the author 100%. You can only realise the price of peace after undergoing a period of anarchy (God forbid).

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  12. Good insight Professor. Although I normally write about economic issues and giving indirect advice to Gvt through the internet, i wanted to write on same lines following Chama’s irresponsible statements.We have more in common as tribes than differences.As a returnee diasporean aged over 55 years,the country I found is different from what I left in terms the tribal talk and political violence all promoted by politicians both from ruling party and opposition. They are using gullible youth! By the way my last research shows that we are about 15 million.To my Tonga friends, what Chama said was an individual silly statement and not representing tribe! I have Beene as my grand Child, best friend is Haachile! Don’t you remember he also said he misses One party state! Poor leadership we have!

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  13. One Zambia One Nation doesn’t exist anymore. The PF have killed it . How can a President say publicly wako ni wako?

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  14. In Kaunda’s time ZNBC (ZBS) newscasters fervently shouted one zambia, one nation.
    I look at these guys today & you can see they are sneering when shouting the same. They are just forced to do so. It means nothing to them (& to a lot of us).
    Even the 72 (or is it 73) tribes is a fallacy. Kaunda created the tribes so he could look like he is a unifier. Seriously will someone count these tribes for me.
    Eg WP has just one tribal grouping Aluyi. Ba kwa mashi are not a tribe, ba kwa makoma are not a tribe & so on.
    We have a number of lingual groupings (dialects) in any tribal grouping all over the country.
    Luapulans are comfortable being called bemba. This doesn’t take away anything from their culture. To insist they are batwa is running away from reality.
    In this age & time, its our…

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  15. Great thoughts coming through this article.

    CHAMA was communicating in the style of language that has defiled Zambian Politics started by HH and the Opposition politicians in Zambia. Questionable as it may be, it is clear he was not being Tribal, but making a point against HHism which has created a terrible and unprofessional political environment. That is the only language HH and other leading noisy Opposition know. I am making an exception of all other opposition as they are silent mostly and chip in occasionally.

    So prolific and concerted is our HH in his brutish, brainless desire to be President that he has lost all reasoning on his purpose in life. Truly, there is a need to ask whether multiparty politics in Zambia is a success, NOT Tribalism being the problem.

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    • Multiparty politics is in infancy. We needed this next stage of development in our democracy system of gov’t, but we are having teething problems. The problem is the role of opposition is not very well understood and the conduct of most opposition is to tunnel vision their journey to the State House rather than be concerned about their citizen representation.

      The Opposition political scene is like Bandit/’Cowboy and Red Injuns’ in Western Movies. Somebody’s gonna get scalped!! If only the two loudest Opposition Leaders that have emerged on our political stage chiefly, HH and Edith Nawakwi could alter their battlefield (attack, attack) demeanour; we would have a more genteel political environment!

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    • CHIPIMO is the best genteel politician we have, who the two should emulate!

      In relation to ELDERS, the 55 year olds are the Grannies, are we agreeing Parent generation have poor parenting skills. Have most been damaged by Western Education? Those that grew up in this generation, were taught to be white through the education system, rather than celebrate their blackness. Even in USA, blacks had to climb into mainstream America via the 60’s struggle for equality. Say it Loud, “I’m Black and Proud” preserved the meaning of being Black and holding your culture.

      Today’s Parents emulate White culture as best. We need to unite around our culture not given culture.

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  16. in 1991 MMD won all provinces except Eastern Province due to Gray Zulu/KK connections. Tribalism is non existence in Zambia but it is being propagated by our leaders due to unfeterred hunger for State House

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  17. I personally think the issue is trivial.From a purely academic point of view, however, I can say Prof Tembo’s analysis is flawed in some aspects;
    1. It has elements of denial and this does not contribute to problem solving;
    2. He appears to water down the fact that the affected people intelligently decoded the remarks attributed to Mr Chama. Everyone knows that the UPND as a party can not be polygamous, only people can be.
    3. It is a fallacy to presume that national unit can be sustained on account of intermarriage relationships. A rupture can occur in any system including family if the relationship is not well managed.
    4. To assume that Zambians are different from other people in the world is for sure a fallacy.

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    • 2). From a purely legal view, if one feels discriminated against or treated in a Racist way, they have the right to be heard. They indeed can decode messages according to their understanding; but ultimately the rights of an individual when breached are tested in a discrimination tribunal. The decision of the tribunal will be the deciding factor as to whether an understanding of discrimination is upheld.

      In this case, studying the political environment in which those statements were made, I believe a Tribunal would not uphold the way the message was decoded. Also the fact that the region has shown to vote according to Tribe would uphold Mr Chama’s statements, though it might be socially accepted it was unfortunate and that the result of this would to be to encourage Unity.

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  18. A Federal State as opposed to a Unitary State, will best serve Zambia from this nonses of tribalism. If one looks closely into the dynamics of the Zambian society, you will realise that it is moving into the direction of a country which upholds street values than homely one, cultureless.

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  19. In Sipatunyana and Chilanga of Kalomo and village we have a village headmen who are Bemba and from eastern provinces.

    Does that happen amongst Bemba villages?

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  20. Politics of poverty from PF and Chama. Bembas are thieves , facts no wounded Zambia is poor.Bembas have destroyed the country,fact. Most ministries who have been jailed for looting the state resources are from Chama’s tribe,fact.

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    • Chama is lala from central. How does that sound in relation to your half baked comment

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  21. “Anyone who thinks he/she can win an election on the basis of one province, has another thing coming”. So said Sikota Wina who has seen politics of Kaunda, Chiluba, Mwanawasa, Rupiah Banda, Sata and now of Lungu. Vernon Mwaanga, Elijah Mudenda and Mainza sons of southern province saw the folly of belonging to a tribal party and broke ranks with ANC and joined UNIP. Infact it is on record that Mainza Chona formed ZANC that later transformed into UNIP to run away from Tribal politics. That is all part of History. Chama due to his limitation of English wanted to say this same thing but alas what he said came out so terribly hence the cry by people for him to apologize or to be fired. UPND is a tribal party, ask Kabimba or Mmembe they will tell you, so why the fracas! Oh how I miss Chona and…

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