Friday, May 31, 2024

Tribal Balancing in Government; a blessing or a curse?


By Prince Bill M. Kaping’a Political/Social Analyst

When President Michael Sata came under a barrage of stern criticism from some of us regarding the appointment of his kith and kin to key government positions; he retorted thus during one of his swearing in ceremonies, “I don’t balance tribes, I balance brains!”

What do we make of this?

We don’t have to be geniuses or indeed consult the Sangomas to help us fathom whether the man people loved to refer to as King Cobra was bluffing or not. This was nothing but absolute attempt to camouflage the ugly head of tribalism and nepotism rampant in his government, and he got away with it. Those of you with the memory of an elephant would recall that in 2012 or there about, I was almost locked up for high treason for churning out an article, “Sata’s Family Forest Explained” detailing the stinking whiff of nepotism and tribalism in the PF regime. Edgar Lungu was Minister of Home Affairs at the time. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, you should have seen on ZNBC TV main news. He was banging and slamming his shiny mahogany desk and seething with uncontrollable rage as he urged the investigative wings to bring the culprits to book!

Anyway, once the millionaire businessman cum cattle rancher turned politician Hakainde Hichilema swept to power, he went out of his way to assemble a cabinet which is representative of the national character by nature – unlike in the past, all the regions of our great nation are represented in the current establishment.

But lo and behold, if we analyze the performance of some of the ministers, it leaves one wondering whether tribal balancing is indeed a blessing or a curse. It’s as clear as day light that some of the minsters aren’t delivering at all. We feel pity for the president that he has to maintain dead wood in cabinet lest he’s accused of purging certain tribes from government.

Let’s take Minister of Information and Chief Government Spokesperson madam Chushi Kasanda for instance; does she still exist? The madam hasn’t been keen to grab the bull by its horns feature on live phone-in programmes to explicate government policies! She’s rather comfortable dispatching written press statements from the comfort of her office. When the nation is grappling with numerous challenges such as load shedding, increase in the price of fuel and essential commodities, we expect Kasanda firing on all cylinders trotting to every radio and TV station debunking the lies and innuendos that the enemies of progress are peddling against the New Dawn Administration.

We come to achimwene bambo Mtolo Phiri the Minister of Agriculture; does he really understand what is expected of him each time he reports for work? The distribution of farming inputs for the current farming season has been chaotic and shambolic to the say the least! We expected Phiri to jump into his work suit and gumboots and embark on traversing the countryside to ensure that inputs are getting to the farmers in good time. What has been situation on the ground? Farming inputs have been getting to our people halfway into the farming season! Who does that?

The energy sector is even worse! It had to take the entire President to excuse himself from his busy schedule to intervene in the energy crisis. What was Peter Kapala doing all that time? Why was he finding it a challenge to dash to Kariba Dam or Maamba Collieries on a fact-finding mission to appreciate the magnitude of the problem and propose alternative solutions?

The president has a passion for this country, there’s no question about it. The man is in a hurry to address the stinking mess left behind by the previous regime. Unfortunately, though, most of his ministers don’t seem to move in synergy with him. They are either lost at sea or busy enjoying the trappings of power to make up for the lost time in the wilderness.

We would like to appeal to the president to immediately undertake, not only the performance appraisal of his ministers and aides at State House, but also seek to know which of his officials are engaging in corrupt activities. If it is so established that Minister XYZ has failed to perform to expectations or they’ve indeed become instant millionaires boasting of fleets of cars, mansions and colossal sums of cash in offshore accounts, the issue of tribal balancing mustn’t even stand in the way! We expect heads to role.

For instance, there’s been a lot of petty talk bordering on the demotion of the Presidential press aide Anthony Bwalya with some alleging that he’s lost his job based on tribe. However, Economic Front leader Wynter Kabimba has shared intelligent sentiments about the same. Speaking in an interview with the press, the former PF Secretary General says Bwalya must have crossed the red line for him to lose his much-coveted job at plot 1 and not some rubbish called ethnic grounds! It’s unfortunate that some opposition party leaders and their blind followers have gone wild spreading lies that can further polarize the nation. UPND media and the entire government machinery, please wake up!


  1. Are zambian pipo this dull surely to be so preoccupied all the time discusing their tribes than progresive issues.?of wat value is your tribe to yo living std..

    • Intelligent people will legislate against tribalism and make it a serious crime…why are we so backwards thinking? Some people are trying so hard to reverse the gains from our freedom struggle that they are willing to destroy everything for a few ngwee.

  2. The kind of human beings bringing tribe discussions in public ar evil and they are sponsored by china to keep zambians mentally behind.

  3. Kapinga, tribalism is real. Don’t be blinded by cabinet appointments…it was inevitable… what would happen if half the Upnd members of parliament were left out of cabinet? Common sense is not that common. Your people have been compensated bye other appointments in various departments. Personally I believe you are the biggest bigot.

  4. Hh and upnd are the worst tribalists in history. If you don’t agree with me then you must be a t0nga or a upnd supporter.

  5. Tribal balancing or the lack of it doesn’t benefit any tribe or tribes. It only pacifies or benefits some agitators or a privileged few while the rest of the tribe remains in poverty if those appointed do not perform or are corrupt. The output of public office is public goods at the right price if those holding public office perform or public pain for all tribes if they do not.

    • Treibalism works. Go to Eastern Province and see how Chipata, a former regional backwater, has been blessed with infrastructure, and how the roads in Eastern Province have become the best in Zambia, starting with Rupiah Banda and contuining with Edgar Lungu. You think that Muchinga Province was created for the national good? You think that Chama and other minerally rich parts of Eastern Province were stolen and added to Muchinga by accident? Please explain to me how Muchinga came to have 2 government built universities, Northern Province and Luapula slated for one each, while the provinces which produce the wealth, ie, Southern and Northwestern get nothing? Explain to me why the 3rd smallest province was robbed of two of its most important districts in Siavonga and Itezhi Tezhi?

  6. The President can de-nominate some old MPs and nominate new ones to fill the vacancies. There are many Easterners sharper than hon Mtolo Phiri. He should ask ABB.

  7. Those people who say ministers are not performing are a joke. What ministers have performed since the end of UNIP? If these PF ministers did such a good job, why is the country in a terrible condition, $31 billion in debt, etc etc??????? Why are all the sewers in Lusaka non functional, and water supply dependent on boreholes. These corrupt tribalists refer to themselves as performers? How, by selling our land to the Lebanese, Pakistanis and Chinese? I HATE THESE BASTARDS with a passion!!

  8. The only solution to cabinet incompetence is to appoint ministers outside party precinct. We have better brains who can work with the president outside the framework of the party. These ministers are burdened with their constituency work and cabinet work respectively. Even at constituency level, their performance is pathetic. The constitution needs to be refined and in line with modern society so as to make presidents assemble credible team.

  9. Institutionalized tribalism is bad because it creates the opportune environment for conspiracy, inefficiency, collusion, and organized corruption. Diversity in organizations brings positive performance. Whenever you walk in an office and you hear every one is speaking the same language, know there is nothing good.

  10. Forget about tribes. Look at who is the most capable amongst the available lot in the pool. Dont look at gender, race, tribe etc but select the best.

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