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Thursday, January 27, 2022

The Ugly T Word: Is Tribal Vote a Key to President Hichilema and UPND 2026 Victory?

Columns The Ugly T Word: Is Tribal Vote a Key to President Hichilema...

By Moses Simaamba

The recent threats to arrest Chishimba Kambwili for hate speech during the elections forced me to question whether we Zambians are blind to the truth — numbers don’t lie! Democracy speaks with ballots. I don’t support Kambwili, and I think he belongs to a mental hospital. But what do we make of the facts on the ECZ website?

Voting Pattern: The voting pattern of Southern Province is summarized by the “DUNDUMWEZI” moniker–but it applies to the whole Province. Since 2005, Southern Province has voted almost 100% UPND. This tradition goes back to 2001– but the HH era gave it a new life. In 2016, HH got 30,810 while Lungu got 252 in Dudumwenzi. In Gwembe HH got 20, 861, while Lungu got 549. In Mbabala, HH got 27, 356, while Lungu got 392. 2015 was not that different. In Dudumwenzi HH got 14,181, while Lungu got 83. In Gwembe, HH got 10, 960 while Lungu got 249. In Mbabala HH got 13, 629, while Lungu got 126. In 2008 HH won Southern province by a big margin over Mwanawasa.

This voting pattern is HH’s anchor and the cornerstone for the UPND dominance in Zambia’s electoral politics beyond the HH presidency. We are afraid to mention this fact, and the UPND wants us not to point it out. But numbers are numbers–Southern Province has been voting the same way since 2005! HH knows the truth–numbers don’t lie. So the UPND strategy is to attack anyone who points out this fact–since it benefits its hold on power. It is the strategy the powerful have used to maintain power throughout the centuries–always protect your privileges by accusing the disadvantaged of doing exactly what you are–in this case tribalists.

What is Tribalism? : Can President HH or the UPND define tribalism? If all white people only voted for one white candidate in 5 past elections, would that qualify as racist? I have respect for people honest enough to say I vote on tribal lines–it is their democratic right to do so. It is on politicians to find ways of bringing such voters out of their tribal or ethnic orbit into their camp.

President HH won the election because of changes in non-Tonga voters. In all fairness, nothing changed in Southern Province–the Province remained locked in the tribal bar as it has done since 2001. Eastern, Northern, Luapula and other Provinces, however, lifted the tribal bar, thereby giving HH the victory. Does this imply President HH killed the T word in Zambian politics? On the surface, yes. In reality, no.

Would the post-President Hichilema UPND be led by a non-Tonga? Would it still receive support from Southern Province as it has done since its founding under two Tonga Presidents? Would it divide into factions? These questions speak to some of the vulnerabilities of tribal support on the future of the UPND in the country. So while it may work for HH, it may also work against the interests of the Party when it comes to 2031 as non-Tongas seek to contest for the top position. Would Tongas accept them?

I don’t want to negate the fact that the UPND is likely to become the dominant party in Zambia due to its TRIBAL base. This ugly T word should send heatwaves to the opposition and every Zambian interested in democratic politics. But it should also serve as a reminder that ethnic identification is alive. President Hichilema’s Cabinet has been cited as non-tribal–which is nonsense. The fact that we have few women in his Cabinet does not mean that gender is not an issue in the HH administration. The administration is sexist to the core! The same with the T-word. We cannot erase the numbers.

Lungu’s failure to attract the Southern vote could be dismissed as lack of political strategy or the characterization of Tongas as tribalists by the PF. But such an argument ignores that the pattern goes back to 2001– does it mean that Mwanawasa, Banda, and Lungu in both 2015 and 2016 were denied votes on the same premise?

The only logical explanation for this pattern is that in Southern voters, non-southerners can’t represent Southern interests. Come 2026, HH will be the only representative on the ballot in Southern Province. This does not mean other names won’t be on the ballot; they will. Nonetheless the only name they will be looking for is HH. Whoever intends to run in 2026 should find a strategy of winning an election without Southern Province and its cousin, Western Province. HH has 100% of the votes in Southern Province even before a single ballot is cast!

As with racists and men, when President HH preaches unity, he means inviting other tribes to accept the UPND and HH, while ignoring the tribal privileges from his own ethic group to which he is the SOLE BENEFICIARY. The fact that no other politician has benefitted from the Southern Province vote but HH should not be dismissed as tribalistic–it is an unearned privilege that HH receives by virtue of being Tonga. It must be probed and dismantled like racism, xenophobia and sexism. How we do it depends on how we are willing to engage in this hard subject–running away from it will simply extend this ugly word.

Like sexism, tribalism is real and we must dismantle it. The President knows it and he benefits from it and so do so many politicians. Tribalism gives them power, so we shouldn’t expect them to dismantle it. We the people should drive the agenda. Emotions maybe high, but in the end, we will become a stronger and better united Zambia.

44 COMMENTS

  1. That is a f00Iish Question to ask. It is as clear as day and night how tribal upnd is and how the tribal vote helped them win. Disgusting

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  2. There is no tribal vote key to any presidency……….

    If tribal voting is the case then the PF rely on the tribal votes of bembas and easterners ……?????

    If HEHH does not perform and provide jobs to the youths , he is out in 2026……simple.

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  3. Well articulated! UPND is tribal to the core but most Zambians are sleeping! They are likely to wakeup in 2031 when another Tonga became president of UPND!

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  4. No doubt you are part of the tribal gang that has been robbing the country of it’s resources since independence. It’s time you change your “career” This country does not belong to your tribal clique. You used and abused our brothers and sisters in Luapula, Northern, Muchinga, Central and Eastern provinces using your tribal card to win their vote but did absolutely nothing to better their livelihood. Since your memory is too short or your brain doesn’t function properly or probably don’t have one. What percentage of vote went to President HaFrederick HaChiluba in 1991 and 1996? Since you are obsessed with Tonga names. @And you Kaizer ba Lab Assistant. Just take a seat

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  5. Good article but the task is higher than Mt Everest. The Southerners are very conservative and they find it difficult to welcome people from other tribes. Funny enough Tongas who find themselves in places like Luapula are very much at home because the good welcome they get…in fact there people don’t even want to know where this doctor, teacher etc has come from.. they are looking at a fellow human being. My late sister married one of these civil servants sent to work in Mansa at Lwamfumu. Unfortunately when time came for our in law to return home, she had to come back because she was not one of them. Because the man loved my sister genuinely, he fought for a position in Ndola. He died and his children have not been acknowledged by his family. Even in social life here in Kitwe they have…

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  6. … particular clubs where they meet for a drink… without other tribes except for one joking cousin here and there.

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  7. @Nigga Nature. You could be right. After voting for President HaFrederick HaChiluba overwhelmingly in 1991 and 1996, they did not like the idea of voting for a candidate who did not come from Southern province like HaFrederick HaChiluba. You deserve an award brother. Very analytical

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  8. What the President said on arrival is what has always been on his mind and on that he thought he was just thinking but the words unfortunately came out.

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  9. Interesting reading, raised some interesting facts worthy of further analysis.Pehaps, the presidency needs to take deliberate bold step to stem this characterisation of the southern province. But then we all heard how the last government spoke of its strong holds in the north and eastern parts of Zambia.Or is it just symptomatic of the very flawed fabric of Zambia as a republic?, “One Zambia One nation”,,,if not, How do we square this circle if i may ask?

    I rest my case.

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  10. #5  Deja Vu 
    November 9, 2021 At 3:21 pm

    “Good article but the task is higher than Mt Everest. The Southerners are very conservative and they find it difficult to welcome people from other tribes….”

    False………

    There are 10s of thousands of bemba speaking people living in the southern parts of zambia…….

    More bemba speaking people living and working in the southern parts of zambia then there are southerners in bemba lands……..

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  11. They know that Kambwili is the only telling us the truth.They will try to name kambwili a tribalist but HH is more tribal than Kambwili.We live with our friends and wives .They just say it that it’s our time now to fix eaterners and bembas.But i wonder why they want to fix us when HH was supported by bembas and easterners. UPND should stop this tribalism by accusing others tribal. We know it’s a campaign tool to label Kambwili.Good article.
    All directors from southern are still working in all dissolved boards in zambia. Just check if you want prove me wrong.

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  12. Bwana, how old are you that your history of voting in Zambia only goes back to 2001? We should not fall for the half-baked incomplete logic of pseudo intellectuals using cherry-picked data. You have a forgone conclusion in your head, and you go out to select data to match your pre-cooked conclusion. It can’t!

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  13. @Deja Vu. Your sister’s case appears to be an outlayer. I will explain.You are right on the part of the northern part of the country being welcoming. I personally lived in Mpika for two years. I enjoyed my stay there. Years later when I got a job in Southern province, I had a hard time because I couldn’t speak the “right Tonga” but my people gave a pass to non Tongas who were struggling with the language. They even opted to speak “broken” Bemba, Nyanja to be able to communicate with my workmates. My boss a northerner took it upon himself to learn the local language in a year and became so good that he was able to translate training material from English to the local language. Coming to your sister, how did she treat her inlaws when she was married to him? I’m not trying to…

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  14. It is, indeed, like “white privilege”. Beneficiaries don’t want to end the status quo! But this is what people should have ‘waken-up’ to, long before now! People need a lot of educating.

    #plant a tree now!

  15. Continued… I’m not trying to disrespect your sister. My question is how did they two get married. Did they follow the right channels? As Zambians, we should learn to coexist. Demonizing each other won’t take us anywhere. No tribe or race has good people inside out. Every grouping has good and bad people. Its called human nature.

  16. There are 10s of thousands of bemba speaking people living in the southern parts of zambia…….Spaka # 10 So you even know the number of Bembas in Southern Province? What would make one to start counting fellow Zambians along tribal lines? That in itself is tribalism.

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  17. #16 Deja Vu
    If only the guy’s uncle was close to your sister, I can conclude that the marriage did not start on a good footing. Instead of pointing at tribe which is the easiest thing to do, a scapegoat if may say, revisit all the events leading up to the marriage and what went on during the union.

  18. #19  Deja Vu
     November 9, 2021 At 4:21 pm

    “There are 10s of thousands of bemba speaking people living in the southern parts of zambia…….Spaka # 10 So you even know the number of Bembas in Southern Province? What would make one to start counting fellow Zambians along tribal lines? That in itself is tribalism…”

    I went to school in S province and lived there for a time……..

    Infact bemba is very commonly spoken in the streets of southern province……..more so than any southern language in the bemba lands……

    Having living in southern province , you don’t have to be a professor or statcitian to realise that thousands of bemba families have made the southern parts of zambia their home……….

    It is people from the clique HH is referring to that are trying to…

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  19. ……..to inflame tribal tensions…..

    Is Southerners were as hostile to other tribes , there is no way those thousands of bemba speaking families in the South would call southern province home…….

    The clique is very rattled at losing power.

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  20. Very true. The difference between HH and ECL was around 70,000 votes in 7 Provinces but in the 3 UPND strongholds HH was ahead by 1,016,000 votes! Numbers indeed don’t lie. Arrest CK we see where it will take you to

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  21. I think the notion of regional voting has to do with who would bring development to the area? With equal resource distribution through CDF and somehow a little of direct attachment to a politician, I feel tribal talk should be a thing of the past. People need to be educated now to know that whether you vote for a tribesman or not, resources will be shared equally. I think villagers are the most culprits mainly due to limited knowledge. Let us put the CDF to good use so that those deep in the bush have some kind of update on current affairs to make informed decisions.

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  22. We personally rejected tribal talks in town because we saw through those that were propagating it and had ideas on who to choose. Not many have that choice especially relatives in these villages. An electoral voting system may do the trick though Africa may not be ready for such.

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  23. #23  Ayatollah 
    November 9, 2021 At 4:49 pm

    “Very true. The difference between HH and ECL was around 70,000 votes in 7 Provinces but in the 3 UPND strongholds HH was ahead by 1,016,000 votes! Numbers indeed don’t lie. Arrest CK we see where it will take you to…”

    Maybe the people of southern province saw what the majority of Zambians are only seeing now………

    That lungu and the PF were a mafia organisation

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  24. “Very true. The difference between HH and ECL was around 70,000 votes in 7 Provinces but in the 3 UPND strongholds HH was ahead by 1,016,000 votes! Numbers indeed don’t lie. Arrest CK we see where it will take you to…”

    What is your point? Some in the “3 UPND strongholds” should have voted for lawlessness, incompetence and criminality just to make the numbers less lopsided?

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  25. Let’s be factual and sincere in our comments . Late Baldwin nkumbula as national party president failed to galvanized the southern province vote . Yet he was tonga (ila) . The voters in southern province overwhelmingly voting for mmd under chiluba a northerner. Nkumbula is a big name in southern province but this did not translate into votes for baldwin’s national party. Also of note is akashamvatwa lewanika agenda for zambia party which failed to swell the barotse vote despite akashamvatwa being a prince in barotseland. Here too the voters were inclined to vote for mmd. Chilubas tribe didn’t matter.

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  26. Nkhumbula sold out with the Choma declaration which made KK supreme leader, thats why. Its a grudge from the 70’s

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  27. The writer of this article is mediocre and he does not understand things. The voting partern in Southern Province is based on pain and a reaction to real tribalism that has been happening in Zambia since the Kaunda Era. Tongas have been systematically cleansed through ethnic cleansing and profiling at different levels. It started by making constituencies in the bantu botatwe areas few to disempower the group and this was gulvanised by Sata’s realignment of districts and establishment of new districts and new province in the north. The Bemba Eastern province click has been on a trip to deleanate and demonize the Tongas and disinfranchise them systematically including voting on tribal lines. Therefore this became an emotional issue for the Tongas. They understand early enough that HH does…

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  28. This article is true to the core. I wonder too why upnd cadre kajoba wants to wants to convict CK for saying what this article is narrating. Leave CK alone and deal with the ztupid voting pattern in SP. In fact h² got 150% in SP.
    Very well articulated article.
    Now the tribalist in state house must be watched as he delivers biased development across the land. See how he is appointing his cousins to head ACC and lauching a bemba targeted fight against corruption. Who is f00ling who?

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  29. Great piece, on point and complete. IG kajoba is now gnashing his teeth. This good article is nothing but a pain in his skin; a sell out. If you have many of the people feeling like the author of this article or like CK, it’s 100 – 0 Kajoba.
    I feel for the police force for a clueless biased boss like our current IG. Numbers don’t lie just as much as truth hates.
    At this point, it feels good being Zambian as liars now have Limited time to get away with it.

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  30. Am a proud Tumbuka and i see nothing wrong with a Tonga ruling Zambia.In fact i’m happy about it and I tell the naysayers STFU and live with it coz its constitutional.

  31. I only saw Zambian vote tally i didn’t see tribal voters.The only tribalist infact is the the author of this useless article.

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  32. the oppressed, mistreated, sidelined, colonised and and unjustly labelled ussually come together as a united force to fiight and defeat the ……in order correct, eradicate the unjust isms and establish peace and freedoms for all. ARE PEOPLE OF SENGA HII, TONGA? ARE PEOPLE OF MPULUNGU TONGA? ARE PEOPLE OF OF MBALA TONGA? ARE ALL PEOP[E IN UPND TONGA? ARE THERE NO STRONG OR STAUNCH PF MEMBERS WHO ARE PF? SO THE UNIFICATION AND VOTING PATTERN OF PEOPLE DEPEND MAINLY ON THE ITCHING ISSUES WHICH AFFECT THEM AND WHICH NEED TO BE CORRECTED AND NOT LITERALLY TRIBAL

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  33. #26 Spaka, this pattern has been consistent since the advent of the UPND. In some areas of Southern province politics were taken to another level. You weren’t safe to talk against HH. What I wait to see is whether UPND will maintain that support post HH. What I see is anarchy as most won’t see the reason to vote. HH is considered as a Messiah by many southerners. If their economic fortunes don’t considerably change during his Presidency many will lose hope in politics and won’t see the reason to vote.

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  34. I will never agree with anyone who does not recognise and criticise Lungu’s tribalism against people from North Western, Western and Southern Provinces. When this was happening under Lungu’s rule – that was OK because we deserved it.

  35. The Tongas are by nature tribalists especially the men. As at now, do you hear that ugly Chief of Bungee Jumping fame speak? How many times did HeHee Campaign in Southern Province. Open your eyes, bakamiponona.

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  36. I agree with someone. If we believe in one Zambia One Nation then what matters at the end of the day are the Total votes cast in favour of each Candidate not whence they come from. The rest is tribalism.

  37. I expected it. It is always the case when the President is not from the North or East. The tribal tug is flashed all over by political tribal demagogues to win sympathy from fellow tribesmen and women. I never saw this hightened tribal talk during Lungu’s discriminatory government, looks like It never really mattered because the victims were not important – the common remarks even from numbskulls were – IFITEKWA

  38. This narrative of voting pattern is a very weak and dangerous one under a Democracy. Free choice is paramount – even in USA there are states that vote for one Party through and through. The agitators of this narrative target tribalism as an appeal to tribal votes but it is a double edged sword – while you call for votes from tribesmen – you lose votes from the people you demonise. Not deniable that HH has been a very strong candidate all along, actually I can argue better than his previous opponents – many people from Southern, Western and North western see him as such. I would want to agree with them that if he came from the North, he would have been President of this country before Sata.

    For future Presidential aspirants note that you will need votes from these Provinces – what…

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