Saturday, June 22, 2024

The UPND and PF Shameful Hypocrisy on Wako ni Wako Tribal Politics


The question of tribalism vis a vis politics in Zambia is buried in great hypocrisy. Politicians crocodile tears may flood our radio and TV stations, Rev. Sumaili condemn it, Lungu and HH promise to end it–but the truth is they are beneficiaries of wako ni wako politics.

I am ashamed of tribal politics, but also disappointed by the untold and shameful hypocrisy–tribalism is at the core of Zambian politics. Who among us has never passed a tribal comment when among our own? “What do you expect from a Tonga; Bemba; Lozi, Chokwe etc.” Let the one who has never committed the sin of tribalism be the first to cast stone to paraphrase Jesus’ words. That a PF cadre said it aloud during the Chilubi by-election does not absolve UPND from tribalism. Politicians may publicly denounce it, but when the race heats up, tribalism becomes the only road to winning elections.

Tribal identification is the conceptual frame through which we participate in democratic politics. That vice President Inonge Wina is Lozi does not mean tribalism does not exist in the PF. Neither can the Presidency of Lungu absorb PF of tribalism. In fact, the appointment of our sitting Vice President was a strategic move that sought to get some tribal votes from the Lozi and Tonga communities. Similarly Hakainde Hichilema’s selection of GBM as a running mate was another tribal strategic move to court Bemba votes. GBM did not even know how to sell HH to his tribal audience. “If you vote for HH,” the wife battering GBM said, “akamifunda ifyakuteka in’gombe” (he will teach you how to keep cattle)–recasting the kachema massaging in the Bemba mind.

The PF Chilubi tribal remarks are shameful, but they are used in nearly every Parliamentary elections where the majority identify with one tribe. The so called “vetting process” for those seeking to contest Parliamentary elections is covered in tribalism. The tribe of the candidate as well as one’s village of origin are critical unearned privileges that parties take into consideration. To adopt Keith Mwanga to contest parliamentary elections on the PF ticket for Mambilima constituency and Kapya Kaoma on the UPND ticket in Dundumwezi will be considered political suicide. In fact, independent candidates will exploit tribal identifications against both of us; we will not win those seats.

Actions speak louder than words. The Dundumwezi presidential results remain in my mind. How else can one explain it? It is not tribalism, but strongholds, one says. I don’t buy into this myth. The language of democracy is the ballot which is an indicator of how we view each other. I agree. People need to be represented by their own. But this very concept promotes wako ni wako.

The PF and UPND will contest the 2021 elections. On constituency level, the PF will get almost all the seats in Bemba dominated provinces, while UPND will win Southern and Western Provinces. Worse still, elected MPs will be natives of these regions. Expect HH to win the majority votes in Southern province, while Lungu will win Eastern Zambia. And in closed meetings, both HH and Lungu are busy strategically playing tribal cards while appearing non-tribal in public. They may term each other tribalists, but their victory is counting on tribal votes.

It is important to realize that tribalism was ingrained in our politics long before independence. Colonialists exploited it to divide and rule–and so are our politicians. Masses of Zambians would rather vote for a frog (as they did under the UNIP regime) than give their votes to Hakainde. Being Tonga disqualifies him from becoming the President of Zambia. Likewise the majority of Tongas will never vote for Lungu because he is not Tonga. Like Donald Trump, HH “can shoot someone” in Cairo Road, but masses of Tongas will still vote for him.

Tribal identification is of critical importance in competitive politics. Unless appointed by the President, no Tonga will represent Luapula Province as MP, or Bemba win an election in Southern province. Thus political parties always work to ensure that Tongas represent Tongas, and Bembas do the same. It is for this reason tribalism will continue to surface in our daily political discourse.

It pains to call a spade a spade but to pretend otherwise is to bury our heads in the sand. Unfortunately wako ni wako exists in Churches too. In organized Churches including UCZ, the Baptist Church, the Brethren in Christ Church, and the Evangelical Church in Zambia, for example, tribal affiliation determines who occupies most senior offices. In fact, some pastors speaking against tribalism are beneficiaries of the same–they hold power because of their ethnicity.

Yes we can point to intermarriages and Christianity as erasing tribalism. Such arguments are akin to saying inter-racial marriage erases racism. The opposite is true. I wish I could think otherwise, but we are tribalists, tribalists and tribalists! I rather face this fact than pretend to be non-tribal when my lifeworld is covered in it.

We need serious discourse on tribalism; current crocodile tears are not enough. Only then would the truth will set us free. (John 8: 32)

By Rev. Kapya Kaoma


  1. Well said!!! Mulenga cannot stand and win southern province just like Nkombo cannot stand and win in luapula. Tribalism at it’s best. It shall never end

  2. The problem is that politics has been reduced from ideologies to hypocrisy and character assassination. All buffoons and nincompoops are leaders of political Parties. Ask them about their ideologies you’ll get absolutely nothing

  3. but if it is about tribe, how come other presidential candidates and aspirants failed to have the same effect on their tribemates, magande , late ken ngondo, edith nawakwi, nervous mumba has failed to get even a simple ward in chinsali, i think this notion is not 100% true.

  4. Uyu **** Reverend is slow, no one is interested in Chilubi or useless tribes.
    People have minds on “gassing”, because of their superstition.
    Zambian mobs don’t kill basing on name if you are Kaoma or Hamatole, they kill if commissioner Charity Katanga shouts that “Kaoma is witch, he turned in cat”.

  5. The writer very behind/blind with what is happening in Zambia, deliberately he is including upnd which is innocent in terms of promoting tribalism, therefore I challenge you to tell me a day hh mentioned against the other tribal like pf there are doing? The tribalist party is PF let us not pretend bwana writer .stop dodging on this issues

  6. Mr Rev. Kapya Kaoma.
    As long as we still embrace this “WICKED ANIMAL CALLED DEMOCRACY “ forget about inclusion.Am so glad that you mentioned that tribalism started prior independence.
    Dr Kaunda tried tribal inclusion.his cabinet was made of 18 ministers greatly dominated by southerners ,seconded by Westerners but still the matter was not solved because Dr Kaunda was deputed by Grey Zulu steady of kumbula or Mainza Chona.
    MMD was formed in U.K in 1989 just after the fall of U.S.S.R KK’s source of international funding .Key players was Westerners headed by Akashambatwa and the Wina families inclusive southerners other tribes were left aloof not until when it comes to TRIBAL INFLUENCES and Bembas received overwhelming support though with a few educated elites then.Founders of MMD…

  7. Rev Kapya Kaoma: This is a good attempt but it falls short because u hv ignored Zambia’s history and academic research on post-colonial nation-building. Both ANC and UNIP used to hv candidates and MPs in areas that had no tribal connection to the candidates. For reference, see John Mwanakatwe’s book END OF THE KAUNDA ERA. It lists the names of candidates and the constituencies they contested elections in 1964 and 1969 elections. However, lack of development in constituencies and lack of regular visits was attributed to lack of tribal connection in letters to newspaper editors by activists. UNIP succumbed and started adopting candidates according to tribal connection. Still there was lack of development and MPs remained no-shows. This time activists invented a new explanation:…

  8. The Lord has many servants. He has inspired the otherwise intellectually frail Kaoma to produce this brilliant work.

    Jesus picked His disciples from among the intellectually naive and not from the intelligentsia. In a small way, Kaoma fits the bill. May he be blessed.

  9. The sobering fact is Hh has been in the shadows of 3 past presidents , yet there was no tribalism at levels we are seeing today…..

    I am an easterner , but I am ashamed to say lungu has brought Tribalism to the front page of grz.

  10. EDGAR LUNGU he is a tribalist let us not pretend this man has divided the country.simple question how many Tonga ministers in his cabinet or permanent secretaries or high commission?BIG NO

  11. Not correct at all. There is a Jere my in Southern Province. Your write up is ignorant and should be trashed. You are biased against upnd. There are 13 councilors with eastern names in Southern Province, not mentioning the Lozis. No such things is the case in your other stated regions.

  12. Ba Mushala, but you have heard Lungu promote tribalism? If anything, Lungu has talked against tribalism, not sure about his rivals. Also, note that HH gets votes in Eastern Province but Lungu does not get votes in Southern Province – something that even the author has deliberately left out.

  13. Brown – Just because one has an Eastern name then he is Easterner? So, Bizwell Mutale and Kebby Mbewe are Easterners?

  14. adviser

    How can you have a manager who preachers against tribalisim when he feels like yet watches his subornates practice tribal attacks ???

    Lungu watches his ministers talk tribal trash yet covers his tracks with lip service against tribalisim ????

  15. Only a tonga to rule upndead.
    Only a tonga to rule upndead.
    Only a tonga to rule upndead.

    How many times did I say that?

    Yes you’re right three times but it shall remain pronounced and etched in our minds for f-ing main decades to come.

    Man, all I need is to retire this tribal business crook masquerading as a politician.

  16. Upnd won thousands of votes in our stronghold in the last by election while we couldnt even manage a thousand votes in theirs. Think about that before you accuse pf of tribalism. Our strongholds are in various regions with different tribes while our friends in upnd it’s only southern. Think about that

  17. KZ don’t you think that sidelining Tonga’s in the public service (including ZESCO) has no impact in Dumdumwezi?

    You think staffing embassies with one region had no bearing? Or when Mumbi or Kabwili cast negativities on a whole tribe there are no consequences at the ballot? As political advisor you should know better.

  18. Haha ,how funny the pf,ciles like are good at quoting Ackson Sejani ‘s 2006 statement he personaly said out of his own opinion. He was entiltled to that opinion just like every one else is. However, has it ever been UPND policy to have a Tonga to lead UPND? definitely not. Let us now coint how many times pf .leaders have openly vomitted tribal remarks against other tribes. Last week only an urgly woman in Chilubi said it openly “Ine ndi mubemba,umubisa elo umutonga teti ampyane”
    The writer of this article is obvious pro pf. Who are prscticing tribal politics right now? You blame the dudumwezi for voting like that but what about the voters in Luapula province? Let us be objective when trying to write sensitive issues which have an ability to inflame the current political…

  19. Haha ,how funny the pf,ciles like kudos are good at quoting Ackson Sejani ‘s 2006 statement he personally said out of his own opinion. He was entiltled to that opinion just like every one else is. However, has it ever been UPND policy to have a Tonga to lead UPND? definitely not. Let us now count how many times pf leaders have openly vomitted tribal remarks against other tribes. Last week only an urgly woman in Chilubi said it openly “Ine ndi mubemba,umubisa elo umutonga teti ampyane”
    The writer of this article is obvious pro pf. You blame the dudumwezi for voting like that but what about the voters in Luapula province? Let us be objective when trying to write sensitive issues which have an ability to inflame the current political tension in the country.

  20. KZ or whatever your name is? you are an example of what a human being being should not be.
    You cant inspire any sensible human being – unless your fellow kaponyas

  21. As long as you have democracy, you will have tribal inclinations. Democracy evolved in Greece as the best vehicle for competing IDEAS. Zambia’s ‘Tribalism” is exacerbated by ONLY 1 province in Zambia, and unfortunately today, by an egocentric rich businessman with delusions of grandeur,, from that same province.

  22. Amazing how “tribe” is the one-and-all here, the core of divide-and-rule as established by the coloniser. Of Course africans were organised in Chief- and kingdoms just like the Europe of the 19th century. The Question is how did europeans establish common identities without tribe? well, their boundaries are near-to 100% Nation-states except for Maybe Catalonia, the Wallons, Welsh, Scottish to Mention but a few.
    The booze-tinted geometrical lines drawn in Berlin back then had resource-interests in mind NOT AFRICAN PEOPLES !! So Long as the african continues with the Colonial role of ethnic kings and Chiefs as the Basis of his political Engagement the end will Always be the past. Westminster works because the central parliament and Government ONLY SERVE NATIONAL INTERESTS; THIS IS…


  24. Bitter truth but its reality anyway, we can not run away from the fact that each tribe wants to be represented by someone of the same race. Even though that’s the case the fight against tribalism should go on.

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