The Post (Editorial) / Wednesday, 13 September 2006
There must be recognition in Zambian politics that any election campaigns must be based on sound moral values which serve to bind our people and not to divide them on tribal and regional lines. The Bemba tribalism and regionalism that is being unleashed by Michael Sata and the Patriotic Front is frightening and must be combated.
Struggling for national unity, it is necessary to combat firmly the fabricators and abettors of division. It is dishonest for Sata, or anyone else for that matter, to claim that Frederick Chiluba, Xavier Chungu, Faustin Kabwe, Aaron Chungu, Samuel Musonda, among others, are being prosecuted simply because they are Bemba-speaking people from Luapula. Well, if they had formed a tribal cabal to steal public funds they have to be arrested, charged and prosecuted as such.
They cannot hide behind the tribe, behind the humble Bemba-speaking people who they never shared any of their loot with. The majority of the Bemba-speaking people are poor and have got nothing to do with these characters. These people have been charged and are being prosecuted on very solid corruption and abuse of office criminal offences.
There is nothing tribal about their prosecution. As for The Post, our position on this issue is not based on any tribal or regional factors. The editor of The Post is a Bemba from Chinsali. And the key prosecutor of these characters, Mutembo Nchito, is a Bemba speaking lawyer from Luapula. What is tribal about all this? Sata knows very well the role The Post played in getting these Bemba thieves prosecuted. Tribal considerations should never be brought into matters where they have no relevance.
If Sata thinks he will get Chiluba, Chungu and their criminal friends off the hook if they win the September 28 elections they will be in for a rude awakening. We will not be turned into a pillar of salt. We will fight them to the bitter end. We sincerely believe Chiluba, Chungu, Kabwe and their friends stole and abused public funds.
This is what we think and believe. Of course, our courts of law will have their own position at the end of the day – and this is what will really matter.
Sata and his friends should not be allowed to turn crime into a virtue. And we appeal to all Bemba-speaking people of goodwill not to be misled by these evil demagogues who seem to all the time be on the side of criminals.
There is no one persecuting Chiluba, Chungu or any other person over this matter. If this was to happen, we would be the first ones to defend the rights of these same people we sincerely believe to be thieves, crooks.
And we will do this on principle and not out of tribal or regional political expedience. We will do it out of the belief that crimes are committed by human beings and whatever crime one commits, he or she still remains a human being. And as long as one remains a human being, there are certain fundamental rights they should continue to enjoy. And these should be defended at all costs.
We seek to clarify this position to our people and our readers, and not to leave them impended by divisive political positions of Sata and his minions.
We believe that fragmenting our country into tribal and regional politics will not help us move forward and deal with the many problems and challenges facing our people. This country needs the maximum unity of all its people, of all its forces. Yes, the Bemba-speaking people constitute 43 per cent of our population and they can be said to be a big force; but they are only one force.
What we need is a collective force of all our people. Let us not forget that before, the tactics of those who used to rule over our destiny consisted of dividing us and setting one force against another. They set every faction of the people against the other factions. They set one humble tribe against another humble tribe to serve their own interests of divide and rule.
The tribal regional politics that are emerging with force in our country are dangerous and they serve no other purpose other than to weaken the people and make them easy to manipulate by all sorts of unscrupulous politicians. They are weakening the people by their practice of setting one humble sector against others.
They have divided the people into petty political parties that bring no guidance to the nation. They have divided the ignorant and misled people into factions supporting unscrupulous and greedy politicians. Thus they are weakening the people. Thus they are confusing the people.
We have to struggle for national unity. And to struggle for national unity is, necessarily, to struggle against divisionism. It is also necessary to unmask and isolate the small pseudo self-appointed tribal political leaders wherever they appear, conduct campaigns of division, intrigue and provocation. It has to be underlined that the greatest propagandists and defenders of thieves are today found in the ranks of these tribalists – whom, objectively, they serve with their irresponsible utterances and activities.
The national unity we are talking about should be for today and tomorrow. We should be ready to travel together and in unity with all those who wish to unite in the struggle for the same objectives. We do not understand national unity as mere declarations of goodwill and good intentions. National unity is expressed, manifested, consolidated and developed in common activity and struggle.
A proper solution to the great national problems our people face today is impossible without the struggle for unity. The struggle for national unity should never be seen as a transitory measure. It decides the present and will decide the future of our country. And its consolidation is indispensable in the period leading up to elections when opportunistic politicians of all stripes are trying to feather their nests.
And let’s not forget the regional problems of the mid 1960s. We were lucky we had the good political skills of comrade KK and his colleagues and overcame the divisions of that time. We therefore wish, above all, to recall this past, so as to foresee and plan for the future better. Let us not forget that our struggle for independence was intrinsically bound up with the fight for national unity. The struggle to defend and consolidate national unity demand permanent vigilance and action to neutralise and eliminate the manouvers of political opportunists.
And by defining tribalism and regionalism as enemies to be fought against, we will be depriving the opportunists of the chief instruments of their anti- people manouvers.
As for Sakwiba Sikota, his honour and integrity on the question of prosecuting those who stole or abused public resources is already in tatters. The best Sikota can do on this issue is simply to shut up. His attempt to interpret what Sata said about dropping charges against Chiluba and Chungu, among others, is an insult on the intelligence of Zambian people. Sata meant what he said and he said it in very simple and straightforward language.
The truth is Sikota, together with his former leader the late Anderson Mazoka, had dealings with Chiluba and Chungu. They were trying to get their help over the presidential election petition. We know they did many things together, they became friends.
This probably explains why Sikota has defended these people and has always targeted the Task Force with all sorts of baseless accusations and insinuations. The truth is Sikota is in alliance with a group that is being bankrolled by those who stole from the Zambian people. Yes, we do appreciate that there have been a lot of problems with these prosecutions and we have never hidden them; we have actually been the first ones to expose them and defend the integrity of our judicial process.
But there’s a difference between someone who is not doing his job properly, wholeheartedly and characters like Sata and Sikota who are outrightly conniving with criminals. Sikota cannot deny that he hasn’t been speaking or has not spoken to Xavier Chungu over the last few days or weeks. If people have decided to protect their friends, let them just say so than to try to be champions of rights they are not championing. For them, it seems it is a question of power at all costs and by whatever means even if it means going to bed with criminals.
We therefore urge our people to listen to all our politicians and listen carefully so that at the end of the day, they have a good idea of where each one of them stands. We urge all our people to on that day vote wisely and only for politicians who are known for their honesty, ability, dedication, and concern for the welfare of all.
Let us not forget that citizenship demands a positive contribution from everyone to build our nation’s future. And this includes fighting corruption, tribalism and regionalism because a corrupt nation will never be a fair, just and humane one.
Actually, tribalism is an extension of corruption. We therefore make a clarion call to all our Bemba -speaking people to fight this emerging dangerous Bemba tribalism being championed by Sata and his minions.