UPND members of parliament yesterday walked out of the House as Vice-President Inonge Wina seemed to justify the recent tribal statements by PF and government leaders against the Tonga speaking people.
During the Vice-President’s Question Time in the House, Kabompo UPND member of parliament Ambros Lufuma said leaders were encouraging the tribalism cancer instead of discouraging it.
He said the Tonga tribe was being demonised to the extent that the leadership (government) was openly making tribal sentiments against “this ethnic group”.
“The President of the Republic of Zambia, rather than condemning it, is lukewarm and mute about this situation which gives us the direction that he is promoting the same for political expedience. My question is, Mr Speaker, what strategic, systematic and combative remedy is the government putting in place to ensure that this scourge, this cancer does not consume this country and become like the Rwandan situation? And what should this one person, Tonga, who was mentioned by the President that he will never be a President at all, a Tonga will never be a President at all in this country, what should they do? What should the Tongas do? Should they extricate themselves from Zambia or what are you going to do about it?”
In response, Vice-President Wina said she never expected a question of that nature from a very seasoned political leader.
“If we are sincere, we cannot say what the honourable member is saying because the UPND itself, in 2006, saying in our faces that no person from any other province or tribe can be leader of UPND except a Tonga,” she said.
“This was said in my face and I do not need any witnesses. I am a witness and I was a victim. So to say that the Tongas are being singled out, I do not believe so, because the Tongas like any other ethnic grouping in this country area entitled to…(opposition interjected and started walking out of Parliament).
Vice-President Wina then continued saying it was very unfortunate that leaders were failing to address the issue squarely.
“Whether you are Tonga, Lozi, Bemba, let’s resolve this issue of tribe because wherever something is said about an individual, they will take it out of context and claim that the whole tribe has been condemned. It’s not true. Mr Speaker look at the composition of the political party called the Patriotic Front, it is comprised of all tribes and even the UPND is comprised of all tribes but it does not mean that the Tongas should take offence when something is mentioned around a name. If there were any statements that were made negatively against the Tonga people, that one has been condemned by all of us,” she said. “And I will also condemn any utterances that subscribe to the ethnic affinity of any person or any leader, let’s try to build this country as One Zambia One Nation. We were not a nation in 1963, 1962 but all these ethnic groups have come together, we never fought any tribal wars, even under colonial rule, why should it happen now? It’s because of the politics of this country that are used by politicians to galvanise their tribe to follow them to make the necessary mass for a political party to survive.”
Meanwhile, a PF member of parliament rose on a point of order wondering whether Choma UPND member of parliament Cornelius Mweetwa, Keembe’s Princess Kasune Zulu and another were in order to walk in the House, register and also walk out.
He said the UPND walkout was unfortunate.
“Mr Speaker, are we here to just come and make money for ourselves? Because these members of parliament were not here when the incident happened. Are they in order to just check in and walk out without following proceedings of this House?”
In his ruling Speaker Patrick Matibini refused to comment on the walkout by UPND members.
However, he said walking in and out of parliament and failing to form quorums were a source of concern not only on Friday.
He said on many occasions, members, both on the ruling party side and the opposition practice same conduct where they “come in, check in and leave”.
“We have been grappling with how to deal with this situation. Even when it is calm people come in, check in and walk out,” Dr Matibini said and counseled legislators to be mindful about their responsibility. “We should all serve our people faithfully and faithful service means check in and follow proceedings, both on the left and the right.”
Dr Matibini said from his seat, it was difficult to exactly know why a member of parliament would walk in and walk out.
“There are issues of life. It’s question of leadership. Are we being faithful to the constituency? You know. Your conscious should answer that. Quorum speaks for itself whether we are being faithful or not,” said Dr Matibini.