[By Tuesday Bwalya]
I HAVE observed with dismay the tendency by some politicians to threaten and attack others on tribal lines.
Early this month, Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM) was quoted in many online media platforms warning the country’s main opposition UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema (HH) not to set foot in Northern, Muchinga and Luapula Provinces. He was reported to have made such warning when he was with the President Mr Edgar Lungu in Kasama. If these media reports we were receiving concerning GBM’s rants on HH were true, they made sad reading and indeed amounted to threating violence on HH and discriminating against him on the basis of his ethnicity.
Since GBM left the United Party for National Development (UPND), he has been throwing many missiles at HH. However, HH has been mature enough not to respond to such attacks. What does GBM mean? Does he intend to physically harm HH? If so, what is the Zambia Police Service doing about GBM’s threats? We all know that the Zambia Police Service is working under difficult conditions; politicians in many cases dictate to them what to do. However, the service should take keen interest in GBM’s ratings.
GBM’s threats on HH are more worrying in the sense that they were made in the presence of and with full attention of the President of the Republic of Zambia. Does it mean that President Lungu supports the tribal rants GBM has been throwing at HH? If no, why is he keeping quiet?
President Lungu should have censured GBM because he, being a Christian he purports to be, should not just watch his followers proposing violence on innocents citizens.
Further, President Lungu should not stand and watch his disgruntled followers like GBM divide our country on tribal lines. The Bible in Galatians 3 verse 28 says there is neither Jew nor Gentile in Christ. This implies that if we claim to be ambassadors of Christ, we should not discriminate against one another. We should love each other and live as one body of Jesus Christ, our Lord. All Christians, including President Lungu, should know this Bible teaching and live by it, and not condone people like GBM who are threatening the peace of this country by practicing tribal politics.
Now, GBM should be told, if he has not read our Constitution, that it provides for the right of any citizen of this country to travel to any part of this Republic and, if he or she wishes can even settle there. HH is one of the citizens who enjoys such a right. In this regard, GBM has no authority to block HH from visiting Northern, Luapula and Muchinga provinces. GBM can only bar people from entering his residences in Kasama and Lusaka. To you HH, make an urgent tour of these provinces and let Zambians see what GBM will do to you.
I have further watched with shame the utterances by GBM purporting to suggest that he owns all the Bemba speaking people in Northern, Muchinga and Luapula provinces. Does GBM think all Bembas are dull to buy in what he is saying and doing? Does he think many Bembas will accept to divide the country on tribal lines? I don’t think GBM has influence on all Bembas; he has influence on a few he gives handouts.
I also submit that many Bembas do not want tribal politics but politics that will solve economic problems. As articulated in my first article in this newspaper, many Zambians, including Bembas are suffering; they just want leaders who can fix the economy not tribal politics. His utterances and threats on HH may incite hatred among our sisters and brothers from other regions.
GBM should stop using us (Bembas) to fight his political battles. He should not issue such threats on our behalf because such politics and behaviour do not represent the majority views of Bembas. GBM should learn to practice clean and mature politics, not tribal politics. The politics GBM is practicing are retrogressive and a serious danger to the peace of this country.
To the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party leadership, my humble appeal is that since you have welcomed GBM back, guide him on how to do his politics to help you remain relevant to Zambia. Tell GBM that the biggest enemy you have as a party and government is the economy. Therefore, let GBM help you solve the puzzle of the Zambian economy.
To President Lungu, my advice is that you should distance yourself from politicians practicing tribal politics, or else many Zambians such as Laura Miti and others will continue to believe that you support tribal politics and you benefit from it.
I personally detest tribalism and those who know me very will attest to this. My dream is to see a Zambia devoid of tribalism. Let us all denounce tribalism in any form and build a Zambia where tribe or region does not matter but ideas.
The author is a lecturer at the University of Zambia, Department of Library and Information Science.