PATRICK Mucheleka has wondered where the Bemba Royal Establishment was when Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba was arrested for allegedly saying he would go for Lungu’s throat and when singer Pilato was threatened by PF for his Koswe Mumpoto song for them to defend President Lungu’s ‘Bembas thieves’ remark.
Mucheleka, who was Lubansenshi independent member of parliament from 2011 to 2015, yesterday accused some Bemba chiefs of loving money so much than their subjects and even their own tradition.
He was reacting to President Edgar Lungu’s recent remark at an Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ) event in Lusaka where he said “out of 10 thieves, six are Bemba’.
The Bemba Royal Establishment (BRE), through its spokesperson James Mulenga, has since issued a press statement saying Bemba elders were not at all bothered by President Lungu’s commentary that “out of 10 thieves, six are Bemba because Northerners and Easterners were traditional cousins.
“We have not found any issue with President Lungu’s joke. He is our traditional cousin. We equally joke with the Easterners; we call them dull, backward and foolish and so on. So, we cannot take offence at that, and neither can we be bothered when they jibe at us,” stated Mulenga.
“We taunt, we joke and do all sorts of things to each other in line with traditional cousinship. So, President Lungu is very correct to have said what he said about us. He was merely joking.”
But Mucheleka, who is UPND deputy secretary general in charge of politics, charged that the BRE must not involve itself in the matter when it stands aloof in other matters that afflict Bembas.
“GBM today is appearing in court for allegedly saying he will go for Lungu’s throat and there was no statement from the Bemba Royal Establishment to defend their son and say he was playing ichimbuya (tribal cousinship). GBM defended them (the BRE) to a point of resigning as a defence minister but they have never stood in solidarity with GBM,” Mucheleka said.
“They are even forgetting that it is Lungu, as a home affairs minister, who deployed over 500 police officers to prevent Chitimukulu from ascending to the throne. Because of their love for comfort, they have conveniently forgotten about what Lungu did to them.”
He wondered why tribal cousinship could only be a ‘harmless weapon’ for President Lungu against Bembas and not the other way round.
“When GBM was arrested in Lusaka over that alleged remark that he would go for Lungu’s throat, chief Munkonge, the father to GBM, tried to come to Lusaka to stand in solidarity with GBM, the same Washanga Impika Shalubemba (BRE spokesperson) distanced the Bemba Royal Establishment that they had nothing to do with chief Munkonge’s visit to Lusaka,” he recalled.
“The matter of GBM allegedly saying he would go for Lungu’s throat was not treated as cousinship! No one said ‘iyo (no), Lungu stop what you are doing; it is ichimbuya’. When Chama Fumba, popularly known as Pilato did songs called a Lungu anabwera and Koswe Mumpoto…. For the song Koswe Mumpoto, he (Pilato) actually had to flee; he had to go into exile, leaving his family here suffering. There was no statement from the Bemba Royal Establishment to tell Lungu that Chama Fumba was doing ichimbuya. No one said so and yet in that Koswe Mumpoto song there was no mention of Lungu! Where was this Bemba Royal Establishment? Up to today, GBM is still appearing in court over the remark he allegedly made; GBM is still not free.”
Mucheleka urged the BRE to be kind and care about all Bembas, regardless of their political association.
“When Bembas are suffering…. They don’t even understand the implication of that statement. In future, our young Bemba people will find it difficult to find jobs in this country because people will be saying ‘the President said you Bembas are thieves and the Bemba Royal Establishment agreed with Lungu’,” Mucheleka lamented.
And Mucheleka challenged the BRE to summon him as “Patrick Mucheleka, a member of the Bemba Royal Family.”
“I challenge them to summon me in the same way that [Michael] Sata was summoned by the late Chitimukulu, Ackson Mwamba – except Sata refused to go and appear before them. Sata said he could only be answerable to chief Chikwanda in Mpika where he came from. I challenge them to summon me at the Nchenje and I will appear before them and tell them in their faces exactly what I’m saying and how they have betrayed the Bemba people because of the love of money,” he said.
“We have no one who can speak for us and I admire the Ushi people; how they have stood in solidarity with their son, [Harry] Kalaba. But for Bembas, they are being betrayed by some of their chiefs who love money so much than their people and even their own tradition. They have disgraced us,” he said.
He stressed that when he featured on Lutanda radio in Kasama, he challenged them to summon him but that they haven’t.
“Let them summon me and I will appear there – I cannot fear them. I’m a member of the royal family on my father’s and mother’s sides. I can appear like yesterday!” Mucheleka emphasised.
“The love for money by a few Bemba chiefs is causing so much disgrace. Chitimukulu now has said in 2020 he shall go flat out to campaign for PF and de-campaign the opposition; we shall be ready for him. It’s the people who are suffering! If him and his spokesperson are enjoying, their own subjects are suffering.”
Meanwhile, Mucheleka alleged that majority Zambians had walked away from the PF and that there was nothing the BRE could do to save President Lungu.
“Everyone is suffering, even in Lubemba itself. As I speak to you, many farmers in Malole and Kasama have not received agricultural inputs. Some farmers who sold maize to the FRA (Food Reserve Agency) have not been paid. Some months ago, Chinese killed a Bemba security guard in Malole itself. But we have not heard any condemnation by the Bemba Royal Establishment of that Chinese who killed a Zambian,” explained Mucheleka.
And Major Richard Kachingwe advised the Bemba Royal Establishment to keep away from the ‘Bemba thieves’ remark.
“First of all, me I am Bemba, I was born a Bemba and I will die a Bemba. But I also recognise other tribes as being in existence and we have worked together so well but for a person to refer to us as thieves, it does not affect the chiefs. They are in their vitenges, their nsakas, they don’t know the humiliation we suffer in the market places,” Maj Kachingwe said. “They are not there when we are being ridiculed. They will not be there when we are being shunned, when we are being eyed with suspicion, after all they have the cover of their palaces.”
Maj Kachingwe said it was wrong for the Bemba Royal Establishment to be paraded in defence of President Lungu’s remarks.