By Charles Mwewa
Since independence from British rule on October 24th, 1964, Zambia has been ruled by five presidents: Kenneth Kaunda (KK); Frederick Chiluba; Levy Mwanawasa; Rupiah Banda; and Michael Sata. Contrary to popular but erroneous public opinion, only two of these presidents can be said to be a true or adjuvant to the Bemba tribe (Michael Sata and Frederick Chiluba). KK’s parents could have hailed from Malawi, and there are no Bembas in Malawi. Mwanawasa was a member of the Lenje tribe and Banda is from the Nyanja.
In historical as well as political parlance, no tribe has dominated politics in Zambia as is often asserted. Kaunda was from Chinsali, but that does not make him a Bemba. In fact, a critical look at Zambian presidential history will show that the so-called Bemba presidents have proved to be more tribalistic than non-Bemba ones. Other than KK, no other president after him had a clear Tribal Balancing agenda. Although the late Sata accused both Mwanawasa and Banda of being tribalistic, he, Sata, happened to be the most tribal of all presidents.
If Zambians are honest with themselves, and if the interest of the nation is to supersede personal and political proclivities, of all the presidential contenders and potential contenders in the coming January 2015 presidential by-election, only one candidate stands out as credible – Hakainde Hichilema (HH). There are four reasons why Zambians should vote HH as the next president of Zambia.
First, the tribalism accusation against HH has no merit. HH has not been a leader of Zambia; he has not been elected as president before. He has never ruled Zambia, so why do some quarters still smear him with tribalism murk? Other than as a political gimmick to lure votes, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that HH is or will be tribalistic. HH is a Tonga, yes, but Tongas are not tribalistic. Zambia must be grateful to the likes of Mainza Chona who handed the first presidency of Zambia to the likes of KK freely. The Tongas – and more so their tribal cousins the Lozis – if they were stingy with power, could have been ruling Zambia since 1964. Their politicians were agile, educated and many times richer than others from other tribes. But, in the interest of harmony, they have, historically, chosen the path of peace and inclusiveness. A few of them here and there may be tribal in their politics, but that is to be expected in all other tribes as well. Michael Sata, a Bemba president, was even more tribalistic than all other presidents before him.
Second, HH, of all the candidates and potential candidates, comparatively, seems to have a more stable party, well-organized machine and less toxic personalities around him. One can also say that, comparatively, he has a better platform and agenda for Zambian than all other candidates.
Third, like Sata, HH has been a fighter. He has attempted to rule before but he either came in third or was rejected by the other tribes.But in all this, he has never withered; he has been consistent. This posture – which literally gave Sata the presidency – is alive and well in HH. HH will, more than any other candidate, help bring normalcy to Zambians politics and secure for Zambia a better economical legacy. And he is relatively young (we do not yet know who will emerge the Pf candidate).
Fourth, and perhaps the most important, HH as president of Zambia is critical to accountability. If anyone of the aspiring candidates in Pf becomes president, we may never know how the Sata regime abused power and squandered national coffers for personal gains. All the indignities and undemocratic tendencies perpetrated, especially during Sata’s incapacity, may go unpunished. A win by the MMD could also ensure accountability, but it is doubtful whether that would be accomplished in good faith. There is just too much personal vendetta involved in the MMD aspirants (especially if Banda should be elected president). Besides, MMD is on record as a party of thieves and corrupters. The new leaders may be immune but the brand is tainted!
Zambia must give HH a chance to rule, especially if he must be prodded to articulate his vision for Zambia in clear terms. It is best for Zambia in the interim. The PF win again is detrimental to the nation’s wellbeing, especially to the democratic and developmental quest. None of the more than seven presidential candidates in the Pf has a vision for Zambia, just like Sata had none. Sympathy for the dead is only welcome if a credible, formidable and believable leader was available in the Pf. At the moment, there is none.
Zambia – push the assertion of tribalism aside, review history and analyze contemporary political events, and you find that Tongas and Lozis are not, and have never been, tribalistic. Some Bemba and Nyanja politicians portray them so. HH may make a sound president for Zambia – particularly at this crucial moment!
Charles Mwewa is the of Zambia: Struggles of My People; King Cobra Has Struck: Letter to President Michael C. Sata, and professor of legal studies in Canada. For more information and articles, read The Mwewa’s Post athttp://www.mwewa.ca/.