PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu adopted the tribalism strategy against the Tonga speaking people a long time ago, only that people did not notice this, says Laura Miti.
And Miti, the executive director of the Alliance for Community Action, says the police made the decisions on the campaigns in Chilubi instead of the ECZ.
Meanwhile, Miti says because Zambians have began to respond a lot more to her organisation’s advocacy on good governance and accountability, the government has become sensitive to what is supposed to be routine
empowerment of the people.
In an interview in Livingstone, Miti said the church, civil society organisations and the media need to ask President Lungu why he was being tribal against the Tonga people.
“Tribal talk is not a recent issue because it is what President Edgar Lungu adopted after assuming power. He adopted this a long time ago. It is just that a lot of people did not know. These sentiments of how
the Tonga are inherently bad, ‘it is in their DNA to be bad’; this is what President Lungu has been saying for a long time. We did not think so much of what was happening, but now Chilubi (by-elections) has brought it out,” she said.
“I am not very sure why the ruling party has come out so much (against the Tonga), they have thrown all caution to the wind, and because they have thrown all caution to the wind, they have shown us their under
belly, they have shown us their side that they are not very good at keeping secrets and now we have seen ministers speaking in the presence of the President at a campaign rally on tribalism,” Miti said.
She said she was very happy that the tribal remarks had come out because it now showed how troubling Zambia has become.
Miti urged Zambians to stand up against tribalism brought out by the PF in Chilubi.
She added that she believed what Professor Nkandu Luo, Bizwell Mutale and Chanda Nyela said against the Tonga was not what they actually think but was a political strategy to gunner a few votes.
“It is a political strategy, PF does not love the people of Chilubi in any more than it does the people of Southern Province, it’s just a political strategy. They are teaching people of one province who are themselves as poor as the people of Southern Province…people of Chilubi have poor access to services, roads and they are very impoverished and yet they are being told to hate other people for no benefit for themselves. So this tribalism is in a way inherent in the PF, it is just used as a political strategy to frighten people, to hate other people then they can get a few extra votes and that’s what is most
evil about this PF tribalism,” Miti said.
She indicated that the tribal remarks against the Tonga people were a well thought out strategy against both the people being told to hate and those who were being hated.
“Until we the Zambians reject the ruling party framing others as tribally inclined when we know that we are not, this will continue and I think Zambians need to stop rewarding the ruling party for pushing
tribalism,” Miti said.
She added that for elections to be meaningful and reflect the will of the people, there was need for a fair playing field.
“But it seems as if the police is making decisions instead of the ECZ. It is disappointing that the President can be given give 5 days to campaign and the opposition is evicted, it is not logical…we have seen the amounts of public resources that have been poured into Chilubi when the poverty levels prevailing there are too high, but there are a lot of ministers and the President had to camp there. There is a level of arrogance, there is a level of impunity that the ruling party displayed in Chilubi and it is extremely disturbing,” she said.
“Going forward into 2021, this leads us to Bill 10, because issues such as ministers utilising public resources for campaigns will become constitutional. We won’t even complain about it, so the general public needs to be concerned with what we have seen in Chilubi,” Miti said.
Meanwhile, Miti said citizens have started to make linkages between their and choices made by those
managing public resources.
“When there are scandals around public money, you take a much more robust response. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done, but I would say that a lot of Zambians have began to have a much deeper understanding of how it is that choices made by duty bearers affect them around public money and every ngwee spent by duty bearers should be to the benefit of the general public and it is for that reason that those duty bearers in power would like civil society organisations to stop our work. Our work is simply routine, there is nothing for anyone to be frightened about, it is simply very technical, very academic. This is how public money is spent, this where public money comes from and this how bad choices are made, this is how the people suffer. Because the public has began to respond a lot more the government has become sensitive to what is supposed to routine empowerment of the people,” said Miti.