By Dr Parkie Mbozi
As a Tonga by birth and Lenje by residence, I wish I didn’t have to be one of those defending the Tonga people from the on-going targeted on-slaught.
However, I am comforted by the words of one wise man by the name of Dr Ludwig Sondashi. When he was minister of Labour in the FTJ Ciluba government, there were complaints that he was appointing people from North Western province, His answer went like, “If I don’t appoint my people, who will?” Fortunately, the whole nation and a people molded by founding statesman Dr Kenneth Kaunda (RIP) have risen to the defense of an innocent people that has been a target of abuse by tactless political amateurs within the Patriotic Front.
Anyhow, the ECZ has suspended PF cadre Chishimba Kambwili for systematically campaigning on tribal lines and for hate speech. This may be viewed (justifiably so) as too little too late on the part of the Commission. However, it is good that at last the ‘referee’ has awoken from the slumber to do just what he needed to be doing all along.
ECZ’s Patrick Nshindano said “the Commission has noted with concern the breach of the electoral code of conduct by Mr. Kambwili’s use of hate speech and holding of campaign rallies despite the guidance provided.” Earlier a number of organizations – had also voiced their concerns over Kambwili’s mission of hate speech, which has the blessings of his party. He has said openly that his mission is to ‘sell’ the PF in this election and his boss – Edgar Lungu – has not disavowed or condemned him.
LAZ said it had “observed, with deep concern, the continued issuance of tribal remarks by politicians as they jostle for support ahead of the upcoming Presidential and General Elections. Former Cabinet Minister and member of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF), Mr. Chishimba Kambwili, for instance, has been captured on video making tribal remarks against Tonga speaking people.”
I proffer that Kambwili;s tirade of hate speech against the people of Southern Province is not an isolated case. Demonisation of ethnic groups that don’t agree with them is in the PF’s DNA. They have done it against the people of North Western province whom its founder Michael Sata once called buttocks. In 2015, way before the 2016 general election, Davies Mwila – then PF Secretary General –insulted the people of Southern province. He refused to apologise and the President refused to admonish or fire him.
Chama was quoted saying, Tongas will never rule the country, unless maybe in 100 years’ time if they multiply themselves since they were polygamous by nature. He uttered these words simply out of hate for Hakainde Hichilema, their political opponent. Chama refused to apologise, Lungu refused to fire him but come 2016 general election, they expected votes from people of southern province. What arrogance!
Later the same year Chama boasted that President Lungu was a very strong person who resisted the pressure to fire him over his Tonga remarks. “President Lungu is the strongest person I have ever met in my lifetime because ine ngabali kolopa kale (I would have been mopped out already). You remember the problems I brought to the President and the party about the Tonga issue? Although I didn’t do it, the media was bombarding and the President was under pressure, but he is such a strong person.”
At a meeting held on 19th July 2015, dubbed Chuungu Chaitwa, to discuss Chama’s remarks, various chiefs called on Lungu to disciple Chama but these calls fell on deaf ears.
Chief Nalubamba of Namwala district said, “my appeal is that I want, on behalf of other chiefs and everybody in Southern Province, the President to discipline the secretary general. If anything, let him be fired so that other people will learn a lesson because if he (President Lungu) does not do that, we’ll have difficulties, as people of Southern Province, working with the government of the day. If the President fires him, we’ll know that he is not for that idea but if he keeps quiet, then we’ll have problems believing him.”
Nalubamba gave very wise and timely advice that, “It is very shallow to insult other tribes just because you are in power. If anything, it does not bring supporters near your party.” He added, “You need these people to be your supporters; whether you like it or not [but] how do you attract them to your party with insults of that nature?”
“The man (Chama) is very shallow indeed and I don’t think he is going to be welcome in Southern Province… Is he sure that the entire Southern Province is anti-PF? They have got even an MP in Livingstone (Evans Lawrence); he didn’t vote for himself and they have got a councillor in Namwala, did he vote for himself?”, added Nalubamba,
Chief Chipepo said, “We called some Bemba chiefs about this issue but they said they don’t have any idea where this hatred is coming from. He didn’t insult (Tonga) politicians but he is insulting Tonga chiefs because they are the custodians of the people of Southern Province.” He added, “He has insulted the Bantu Botatwe and he is not fit to be a leader.”
In an article titled “Not Too Late for Davies the Charmer”, Lusaka lawyer Sakwiba Sikota, a known PF supporter, wrote, “It would be nice for the President His Excellency Edgar Lungu to take the role of Head Teacher and try to tutor Davies Chama. If Davies proves to be slow to learn or simply headstrong and stubborn, Head Teacher Lungu could apply some corporal punishment on naughty Davies. I know the law was changed and outlawed corporal punishment but there is always an exception to the rule.”
Despite all these calls, Chama survived and was rewarded with the Presidential nomination of Member of Parliament and subsequently appointed Minister of Defence, one of the top most cabinet portfolios. Kambwili, then chief Government Spokesperson, arrogantly told the Southern province chiefs that Chama had refused to apologise so they should kill him if they wanted.
I said earlier that Kambwili’s recent crusade against the Tonga people is not new and an isolated case. On 25th July 2016, while campaigning at Kabundi ground in Chingola, the same Kambwili was on a warpath telling the crowd that “Tongas in Southern Province only vote for UPND and tribesman Hichilema with a view to being ruled by a Tonga.” At a campaign meeting during the Chilubi by-election in February 2020, Nkandu Luo, now Lungu’s running mate, told voters that there was no way a Tonga from Monze would come to ‘pyana’(replace) her, a Bisa. These comments were indirectly targeted at the UPND candidate, a local, but was in apparent reference to Hichilema the UPND leader who hails from Monze. Hachilema was not even on the ballot. That’s as bad as it can be.
The video is available on: https://www.zambianobserver.com/video-nkandu-luo-joins-tribal-hatred-against-tongas/
On 27th July 2019 Lungu said, “We will one day have a Tonga President but certainly not the current aspirant.” A Richard Waga answered back: “President Edgar Lungu’s sentiment that one day a Tonga will be president but not UPND President Hakainde Hichilema are condescending, tribal and divisive. He is telling Zambians that tribe is a factor when choosing leaders. He is telling Zambians the electoral system is not open enough for anyone to aspire for office. He is confirming the tribal narrative we hear among some PF flunkies who hate the idea of a Tonga president.”
That has been the hallmark of the PF. The chiefs and other commentators called Chama and his likes ‘shallow’, ‘sick’ etc. I call them tackles, clueless, statesman-less politicians, who have no clue that when you target to victimize a people, they coalesce as a survival strategy. They have no clue how to woo voters other than by force. Statesmen before them listened to regions and managed to pull the nation together even after a divisive election. They paddled through political storms and signed accords to pull the country together under One Zambia One Nation.
So says the bible, ‘you shall know them by their actions.” Indeed we have known their true colours through their actions in appointments and allocation of opportunities. After falling out with the PF in 2016 Kambwili went to Southern province to apologise. It’s now clear it was a fake apology. It is in their DNA. They can’t even manage to pretend.
For the information of those without capacity to read political history, though some call themselves ‘Dr’ Chakuti, Tonga’s are not tribal nor selfish. In 1959 Mainza Choma founded UNIP but ceded power to Kenneth Kaunda once he was released from jail. In 1953 ‘Old Major’ Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula and his ANC had to team up with Kaunda;s UNIP to defeat colonial party and win our independence. In 1972 Nkumbula again ceded power and signed the unity accord for a one party state even though he didn’t have to. He didn’t even take any post in the unified UNIP government. That is how the fierce rivalry between Kaunda and Simon Kapwepwe, whose base was Bembaland, eased. Legend also has it that when the freedom fighters were invited to London to negotiate our independence, Southerners sold their cattle to make the trip possible.
In 1991 Southern Province gave Frederick Chiluba, a Bemba, 100%. Again 1996, even with his incarceration of Dean Mungomba and Princess Nakatindi Wina et al and, worse, barring of Dr Kaunda from standing, Southern Province still gave Chiluba another 100%. Further, in 2001, 2006 and even 2011, there were other Tonga presidential candidates, the likes of Shamapande, Magande, etc, but the non-Tonga – Rupiah Banda and Michael Sata, still got better votes than these Tonga candidates.
So, if the Tongas and their allies decide to have a share ofthe political cakes, what’s wrong with that? And if the Southerners and their allies see quality in candidates other than yours, what’s wrong with that? The same hypocrites’ keep saying Anderson Mazoka was the best man for the job in 2001 but fall shot to state which regions failed him. Did you hear the Tongas and their allies accuse certain regions of tribalism? Before blaming people’s choices, answer in honest, who had better credentials and personal accomplishments for the job between Lungu and Hichilema in 2015, 2016 and even now?
Finally at a personal level, come and see whom we live with, whom our loved ones are, whom we do business with, whom we employ on our farms, homes and businesses, come and see whom we have children with, whom our friends are, etc. HOW DARE YOU. By the way, why have you failed to publicize your commission’s report on voting patterns?
The author is a researcher and scholar with the Institute of Economic and Social Research, University of Zambia. He is reachable on [email protected]