By David Zulu.
President Edgar Lungu has taken a veiled jibe at PF Media Director Sunday Chanda and ‘ordinary’ PF party member Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba and instructed them to stop using tribalism as a political tool to advance the political agenda of the PF.
Speaking during the PF Eastern Province Pronvincial Conference in Chipata over the weekend, Lungu forbade any party member from uttering sentiments that tended to promote tribalism and regionalism.
“Tribalism is an ugly vice which is stalking everyone and especially those who mean well for this country. There’s is urgent need to nip it in the bud before it escalates to uncontrollable levels”, stated Mr Lungu.
President Lungu said it was saddening to note that politicians were perpetrating tribal sentiments in the political arena after more than fifty years of Zambia’s independence.
“After more than fifty years of independence and of peace and tranquility fortified by tribal intermarriages and co existence, it is saddening that we continue to hear of tribal sentiments being perpetrated especially in the political arena. I wish to take this opportunity to urge you members of the PF and the entire leadership to desist from tendencies which promote tribalism. Under my leadership, I will not condone perpetrators of tribalism in the party”, charged President Lungu.
Mr Lungu’s anti tribalism remarks come at a time when the PF Media Director Sunday Chanda and Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba have been embroiled in heated tribal attacks against the UPND President Hakainde Hichilema and the Tonga speaking people of Southern Province.
The other area of concern that may have been in Lungu’s mind is the current tribal solidarity with which the Bemba speaking politicians from a shadowy PF pressure group nicknamed the ‘Luapula United’, have exhibited in support of Cabinet Minister Chitotela who is currently facing a plethora of corruption charges in the courts of law.
The President’s anti tribal fight may be viewed as cosmetic, reactive and coming in too little too late, by a man who many may accuse of having been the architect of tribal branding and the stereotypes, particularly against the UPND President Hakainde Hichilema, earlier in his presidency.
The belated and what may be viewed as a half hearted attempt at fighting intraparty tribalism by Mr Lungu, may be a signal that he views the political vehicle he himself helped to invent, as becoming a real threat to his ambitions to stand on the PF ticket in 2021.
As the PF readies itself for a yet to be announced convention which is expected to be bloody, cracks in the party between the Northern and Eastern regions are becoming more visible. It is against this background that Lungu’s sudden interest in fighting tribalism is understandable.