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Tribalism a creation of politics, not NRC – SACCORD

SACCORD says Zambians should stop politicians from using tribe to bring about tension and division in the nation.

In an interview, SACCORD executive director Boniface Chembe said there was need for politicians to refrain from tribal politics. President Edgar Lungu, while in Rwanda recently, said it would not be a bad idea to criminalise tribalism and that his government would find ways of issuing National Registration Cards (NRCs) without indicating one’s tribe, although the document has no provision for tribe.

But Chembe said tribal identifiers on the NRC had no direct connection with the spectre of tribalism in Zambia.

“What we believe, however, is that the spectre of tribalism has a very direct link to tribal politics that has engulfed our country. So, the issue of tribalism is a creation of our politics as opposed to the creation of our National Registration Cards. Therefore, if we were to reverse this spectre, as SACCORD, we believe that our political leaders must take ethic of responsibility, which necessarily entails not indulging in politics of tribalism. We have seen in the past political leaders engage in campaigns based on tribe, campaigns based on region. We have even seen and heard hate speech that had bordered on tribe,”

Chembe said.

“Politicians should not be allowed to continue using tribalism to bring about tension and division in Zambia and blame it on something else. Our political leaders must refrain from doing that. It is on this basis that we actually believe that if we were to put in place much more stronger laws to outlaw hate speech that borders on tribalism, it will go a step further in helping reverse this particular spectre because it is a creation of our politics as opposed to the creation of anything else. Zambians interact with one another. It doesn’t matter which part of the country you come from; we eat together, we congregate together.”

He said it was unfortunate that politicians were using politics to divide Zambians. Cheembe said there was need to deal with tribalism at political level and to deter tribalism in Zambia’s politics.

“We see no direct or indirect connection between a Green National Registration Card and the spectre of tribalism that has hit Zambia. An NRC from our view is a unique Zambian document that traces one’s history that is part of our culture and cultural heritage. Therefore, it must be respected and must be celebrated as opposed to seeing it as a negative that is bringing about tension and division in our country. We have lived with this unique cultural aspect of ours since independence and it has been used well,”

said Chembe.

“During the one party state, Zambia became united. It didn’t matter which region you came from; it didn’t matter what tribe you were, as long as you were born within the Republic and all the details were on your NRC, which is part of the identity of one’s citizenship, you were able to achieve whatever it is that you wanted as long as you believed yourself to be Zambian. You could work in any part of this country, get educated in any part of this country and it worked very well.”

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