Tribalism is unconstitutional: Open Letter to President Lungu, Kanganja, Mwila

GENOCIDE or analogous behaviour to xenophobia (think of the carnage in South Africa recently) could be engendered against the Tongas and Lozis in Northern Province if overzealous PF cadres took the recent disparaging words against the Tongas and Lozis by PF leaders in Kasama, namely Abraham Mulenga, John Sampa and Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba as incitement to genocide and in the absence of any reprisal actions in words or deeds of such conduct by President Edgar Lungu, Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja and PF Secretary General Davies Mwila.

Genocide against the Ibos in Nigeria started in Northern Nigeria where non-Ibos started wholesale killings of Ibos because of the attribution of negative tribal images of the Ibos that had been uttered by non-Ibo leaders in Nigeria. In Rwanda and Nazi Germany, a select tribe or race was negatively labelled by the Nazi leaders that justified their isolation, capture and killings. In Rwanda, the Tsutsis were called cockroaches. In the Northern Province of Zambia, Tongas and Lozis have similarly been negatively labelled by PF leaders in that province. In South Africa, xenophobia is recurring because foreigners have been negatively portrayed. In Northern Province of Zambia, Tongas and Lozis have been painted as akin to foreigners in the land of their birth.

Slavery was justified by racism. Racial genocide is justified by racism. Tribal genocide is justified by tribalism. So many documented cultural, racial, tribal, religious, ethnic, colour, nationalism etc genocides and xenophobia have happened in history not to need recounting here to make the point that urgent intervention in Zambia, particularly in Northern Province is needed now and today, not tomorrow by President Lungu, IG Kanganja and PF Secretary General Mwila. They cannot later say that they did not know or that they did not issue any official orders to their cadres to commit genocide against the Tongas and Lozis in Northern Province or anywhere in Zambia. If any genocide against the Tongas and Lozis occurs anywhere in Zambia, blood and accountability will be on the heads of President Lungu, IG Kanganja and PF SG Mwila.

The brief facts of the case upon which the named individuals above can act against PF leaders in Kasama, namely Mulenga, Sampa and Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba are the following: in a video that has gone viral, Mulenga and Sampa are allegedly heard exhorting listeners to a radio broadcast on a Catholic Radio station in Kasama on November 11, 2019 exhorting listeners to distrust Tongas and Lozis in Northern Province and perhaps elsewhere. Those who understand both Bemba and English have told me that the message is tribally frightening and could spell a lot of trouble for Zambia. Many people have protested the airing and discovery of such video and that video is everywhere on social media. That is Exhibit A to any possible future prosecution of the perpetrators of that genocidal message (Mulenga and Sampa) and the PF leaders who have condoned it, namely President Lungu, IG Kanganja and PF SG Mwila. The protestors against that message have included social justice activist Laura Miti, former vice-president Enoch Kavindele and many others known and unknown as of the writing of this Open Letter to the President, the IG and PF SG on November 14, 2019.

As of the writing of this letter, the President has not issued any reprisal warning or proposed actions against Mulenga and Sampa. Neither have the IG and PF SG. These three have never issued any disapprovals of tribalism aimed at a specific proven and provable episode of tribalism other than perhaps in general abstract terms. It is not enough. In fact these abstract statements if any are so useless as to form circumstantial evidence that these leaders support and condone tribalism in furtherance of their political careers at the expense of national peace and the distant spirit of One Zambia, One Nation.

A few months ago, Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM) issued an invective that Northern Province is a no-go zone for the United Party for National Development (UPND), which is allegedly but totally false, associated with the Tongas and Lozis. In essence, GBM was directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously in my opinion, inciting hatred against the Tongas and Lozis as unworthy of voting for because of their politics and indirectly or directly, tribe. This could lead to political or tribal genocide or both as they are symbiotically linked. What GBM said is in the public domain and would be Exhibit B to any future prosecution against GBM and the leaders who have condoned that incitement, namely the President, the IG and PF SG. As of the writing of this open letter, the latter three have not taken any action against GBM.

A nurse in Kalomo who allegedly behaved in a tribal way against a Zambian, was investigated by the Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya. That was such a trivial and embarrassing episode that tied the consciousness of the nation with baited breath, but the voluble and documented in form of videoed tribalism by PF cadres with malice aforethought in Kasama have not exercised the mind of the PF leadership to investigate. The Kalomo incident which shows that the PF can have will-power when it serves their interests but demonstrate no will-power when the opposite is the case, will be Exhibit C in any future prosecutions against the perpetrators and condoners of tribalism.

As of the writing of this Open Letter on November 14, 2019, NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili is on trial for allegedly issuing a discriminatory racial slur against a Zambian of Indian ancestry. This prosecution shows that the PF knows that racial and perforce tribal slurs of such character are prosecutable offences and will be zealously prosecuted by the state. The Kambwili prosecution will be Exhibit D to any future prosecution against the perpetrators and condoners of tribalism who only prosecute nonentities in Kalomo and opposition leaders but deliberately abusing their powers by not prosecuting real perpetrators of criminal and genocidal tribalism in Kasama as documented above.

If the Kalomo nurse was investigated and if Kambwili is being prosecuted, why aren’t Abraham Mulenga, John Sampa and GBM prosecuted? Kambwili’s is selective politically motivated criminal prosecution. It is abuse of political and criminal powers.

After the brief facts above, it is apropos to briefly talk about the law. Tribalism is a prosecutable offence under the Penal Code when it amounts to incitement akin to rousing tribal sentiments and war which the statements in Kasama by Mulenga, Sampa and GBM could lead to. Genocide flows from tribal, racial, political etc invective hatred, mockery and so on.

The Constitution of Zambia prohibits discrimination of any kind including on the basis of tribalism amongst others. The invective tribal statements of Mulenga, Sampa and GBM in Kasama are unconstitutional and must be sanctioned. The condonation by President Lungu, IG Kanganja and PF SG Mwila of these genocidal statements is unconstitutional.

Zambia has become a lawless nation that engages in selective prosecution based on political allegiances. On November 13, 2019 for example, PF cadres obstructed justice (a criminal offence) when they invaded DEC offices to offer support to former press aide of President Lungu, Mr Amos Chanda. Chanda had been summonsed for an investigation by the DEC pursuant to the law but DEC was obstructed by PF cadres without any enforcement of the law by Kanganja’s police. The PF cadres did not serve any notice on the police and they had no permit to invade the DEC offices. This is all on videos on social media and police data banks. If it were NDC or UPND cadres who similarly invaded the DEC offices in support of their own, without advance notice and without a permit, they would have faced mass arrests and perfumed with tear gases. No such action was meted out to the PF cadres and I am of the opinion that from now onwards, DEC will be intimidated in their intended actions against Amos Chanda and any PF leaders. This selective enforcement of the law or lack thereof, will be Exhibit E in any future prosecution of the perpetrators and condoners of tribalism.

There has been tribalism in Zambia since Independence of Zambia in 1964, but it has never been condoned to such a violent scale as under the current PF leadership. This tribal violence has been partially documented in the recent report of the PF convoked Commission of Inquiry into political violence and voting patterns in the election of 2016. That report will be Exhibit F in any future prosecution of the perpetrators and condoners of tribalism among other vices in Zambia.

The current PF government found Zambia in peace and in one piece. They should leave it in peace and in one piece. Previous leaders lost power and went away peacefully and in one piece for the greater good of Zambia. Zambia is indivisible. We shall fight to keep it in peace and in one piece by any means necessary. Those who aim at disturbing the peace in Zambia and who want to leave it in pieces because of their selfish individual and collective self-interest must resign now and not wait for 2021. President Lungu, IG Kanganja and PF SG Mwila, you are hereby commanded to prosecute the perpetrators of tribalism and obstruction of justice prevalent in Zambia now. You will be held responsible and accountable if genocide ensues in Zambia. You must not be seen to be condoning tribalism and hence any resulting genocide. Right now, your inaction is evidence of support and condonation of tribalism and any resulting genocide. You have been forewarned. There will be no defences in law that you will proffer and that will be accepted.

Dr Munyonzwe Hamalengwa teaches Criminal Law and Law of Evidence.

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