[By Chambwa Moonga in Mwansabombwe]
MWATA KAZEMBE, the senior chief of the Lunda people of Luapula Province, has cautioned politicians to stick to the dictates of plural democracy or else Zambia risks splitting into two halves.
Meanwhile, Democratic Party (DP) presidential candidate Harry Kalaba says Zambia is not a police State where politicians can be moving with riot police behind.
Kalaba, who is on a campaign trail across Luapula Province, paid a courtesy call on Mwata Kazembe at his palace in Mwansabombwe district on Wednesday.
The respected ruler said Zambia was not a personal property of any politician, and that as such those competing for political office ought to do so on equal footing.
He stressed that politicians must preserve Zambia’s peace during their campaigns.
“If you go back into history, you’ll think of those times when UNIP led by Dr Kenneth Kaunda, and ANC under the leadership of Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula, had their supporters who were clashing and hacking each other. Those times were truly bad! That’s why they resorted to a one party State until that system was found to have its own faults,” Mwata Kazembe said, in a mixture of Icibemba and English. “So, in 1991 Zambians, led by Dr [Frederick Chiluba] nabambi (with others) said let’s return to plural politics and we saw the MMD being in power for 20 years. Therefore, the PF took-over the mantle. Plural politics do not mean hacking each other or insulting each other. No!”
He noted that plural politics involves competition, among different politicians, for political office.
“When Zanaco A plays Zanaco B, that can only be called a practice match. They are simply exercising! But real football is when Zanaco is playing against [Mufulira] Wanderers, Wanderers playing against Kabwe Warriors, Kabwe Warriors playing against Nkana. And that’s what happens when you have plural politics and everybody should respect that.”
Mwata Kazembe continued, “in plural politics people are allowed to speak out.”
“But as you go round campaigning as politicians, please musunge icibote (preserve peace). This peace we see in Zambia cannot be found everywhere across Africa or the world. You (Kalaba) are a former foreign affairs minister and ndemona mwalisabantile isonde lyonse (I believe that you extensively travelled across the globe) and you have seen how other countries have been torn apart by violence,” Mwata Kazembe said. “So, don’t use character assassination as you campaign or any other form of language that will incite your followers to start hacking each other. I mean, every one of you has followers and if there is no restraint, cino icalo cikaba pabili (this country will split into two) because no one wants to be suppressed.”
He underscored that extremes breed violence.
“To you political actors, ensure that you offer checks and balances to those in power so that they don’t go to extremes. Those in the opposition are a shadow government and mailo limbi kuti babapo (maybe tomorrow they could be the ones [in charge],” Mwata Kazembe said. “The peace of this country is more important than any individual’s interests. We have to guard it! Problems start like this, bit by bit. It’s like cancer…And once there is full-scale violence in this country, mwebakwete ulupiya mukabutuka (you with money will flee). Fwebakashala tulecula nifwebo (it’s us with no money who will remain, suffering). Kwena nebo ndimwina Congo, nkaabuka (But I originate from the Congo [DR] and so I’ll cross [the Luapula River into Congo].”
He, however, asked: “but what about our children?”
“That’s one thing we must always think. Please, preach peace and even President [Edgar] Lungu should preach peace. Bonse fye (everyone else),” said Mwata Kazembe. “I emphasise that politicians must preserve the peace of this country. After all, it’s God who ordains who should lead this country. And this country does not belong to any person. It’s our collective property as Zambians. That’s what should encourage everybody to advocate for peace.”
For Kalaba, he told Mwata Kazembe that: “Your Royal Highness, we are in the campaign period but we are just forcing matters to campaign, because the space has been restricted.”
“What President Lungu is doing, if the MMD did this to us in 2011, it would have been almost impossible to win the 2011 elections. He wants to win at all costs!” Kalaba said. “It’s you who is known to bravely speak for people and so whenever you meet President Lungu, tell him that things change. He can be in charge today but tomorrow it maybe someone else. Obviously he wouldn’t want to be oppressed in this manner.”
He added that there was no campaign where a political aspirant could not be allowed to talk to people.
“You just drive through; it’s the first in the SADC region. When you suppress others for too long, they react negatively. Zambia is not a police State where we’ll be watching over our shoulders as we move around,” Kalaba said. “They were using political cadres before but now that they no longer have cadres in numbers, they have started using police officers to fight their political battles. President Lungu must be told, with your voice of authority, that he will destroy this country. We’ll not accept to dance to President Lungu’s song. We’ll not accept, Your Royal Highness!”
Kalaba and Mwata Kazembe later conferred, privately, for close to 30 minutes.
On Tuesday, Kalaba campaigned in Nsonga area of Mansa Central Constituency and Mulumbi of Milenge Constituency.
He paid a courtesy call on sub-chief Nsonga, under chief Mabumba of Mansa district.
Kalaba told huge crowds at both Nsonga and Mulumbi to vote for a development-oriented DP and its parliamentary candidates – Mwape Mwelwa (Mansa Central) and Priscah Chimolola.
Wednesday’s campaign trail started in Chipili Constituency where Kalaba drummed up support for that constituency’s parliamentary candidate Christopher Kabalu Shapi.
He then went to Mambilima Constituency of Mwense district and appealed to would-be voters that he be voted for, together with parliamentary candidate Danny Chongo.
Kalaba also paid a courtesy call on chief Mulundu of the Lunda people of Mwense district.
Still in Mwense, Kalaba visited sub-chief Musangu and later told a gathering to vote for him.
“President Frederick Chiluba hailed from this Musangu village and you rallied behind him. I ask you to rally behind me so that together we develop not only Luapula but the entire Zambia,” he said.
Kalaba continued his campaign tour into Mwense, with riot police trailing.
At some point, Kalaba stopped over and went to have some ‘hard talk’ with Mwense police officer-in-charge, a Sosala, for intimidating villagers.
“You are too close to my convoy and you are intimidating our supporters. Look at this one (a terribly masked cop); he looks like a mafia!” Kalaba told Sosala, who ordered his officers to somewhat retreat.
“We are in the campaign period and you can’t continuously follow us like this. We are not going to break any law,” he told the cop.
From Mwense, Kalaba drove to Mwansabombwe where he was welcomed by hundreds of cheering DP supporters.
He then went to pay a courtesy call on Mwata Kazembe, before driving out to Kawambwa.
Yesterday, Kalaba was campaigning in Pambashe Constituency of Kawambwa district.
He is accompanied by Luapula Province DP chairlady Ruth Ndala Chisanga and members of the DP’s Democratic National Committee (DNC) members – Andrew Chabala Chipongoma and Phillip Matavu.