By Charles Kakoma
I saw with shock the fight between Lundas and Luvales in Zambezi District in the North Western Province. I found it embarrassing that in this age and error, people should be fighting along tribal lines.
Initially, I did not want to say anything on the matter because I can be easily be misunderstood especially that I’m an active politician and spokesperson of the United Party for National Development. But I have come to the conclusion that remaining silent will not help current and future generations. The views I will express in this article are purely my own and do not represent the views of the UPND and have no blessings from the party.
An examination of the fracas in Zambezi reveals that the fight was not motivated by partisan politics. It appeared to be based on tribalism.
Violence broke out in Zambezi District in the North Western Province in the last few days following a delimitation exercise being carried out by the Electoral Commission of Zambia. Some of the people whom I identified as PF cadres wanted the creation of Zambezi Central Constituency. Other people I identified as UPND cadres also wanted the creation of Zambezi Central Constituency. These were predominantly Luvale speaking people. On the other hand, I identified some people who rejected the idea of creating Zambezi Central Constituency and instead wanted Zambezi East Constituency to be split into two constituencies called Zambezi North and Zambezi South constituencies. These were predominantly Lunda speaking people. I therefore concluded that the matter was not a conflict between UPND and PF but between Lundas and Luvales.
As a senior citizen and former Member of Parliament in Zambezi District, I feel compelled to analyse and give guidance on the matter.
The Electoral Commission of Zambia has provided principles of delimitation of constituencies and wards. The criteria they want to consider is:
1. The geographical size of the area. Is it too large to warrant its delimitation ?
2. The size of the population. Is the population too large to warrant its delimitation?
3. The geographical terrain of the area. Is the terrain so difficult that it should result in the delimitation of the area?
4. The political, historical and cultural issues of the area. Are the political, historical and cultural issues of the area so significant that they should be considered in the delimitation exercise?
These are very important parameters which should be taken into account when deciding to create constituencies and wards in Zambezi District.
The facts are as follows:
1. In terms of geographical size of the constituencies, both Zambezi East and Zambezi West Constituencies are big and need to be delimited.
For example, from the centre at the boma to the boundary of Zambezi East Constituency with Kabompo constituency in the eastern direction at mumbezhi, the distance is 75 kilometres. On the other hand, from the centre at the boma to the boundary of Zambezi West Constituency with Angola in the western direction ,the distance is 170 kilometres to Kayenge or Nyachikayi. In the North to South direction, both constituencies have a common border with Chavuma district/ Angola in the North and Lukulu district in western province in the south, a direction of about 200 kilometres. It is therefore faire to conclude that both constituencies are large and need to be split.
2. In terms of population, Zambezi East Constituency is more populated than Zambezi West.
3. In terms of geographical terrain, Zambezi West has more difficult terrain than Zambezi East Constituency. Zambezi West Constituency is sandy, has swaps, wetlands and flood plains. Zambezi East is relatively dry and motorable.
4. In terms of the political, historical and cultural issues, Zambezi District is a problem and a citadel of tribally based conflicts. From time immemorial, the Lundas and Luvales have been fighting running battles over the control of Zambezi District. The colonialists and Kaunda ‘s regimes failed to find a solution to the problem. Subsequent governments have set up commissions of inquiry into the Lunda -Luvale conflict without success. The tribal feelings are so deep rooted. It is probably not a problem for Zambezi District alone but the whole North Western Province. This complex tribal problem probably explains why Kaunda
Decided that out of the seven major languages spoken on the Zambia National Broadcasting corporation (ZNBC) , three of them are from North Western Province , i.e. Lunda, Luvale and Kaonde.
THE WAY FORWARD.
From the forgoing ,it appears to me that:
1. Of the options available, splitting Zambezi East Constituency into Zambezi North and Zambezi South constituencies will not solve the problem of Zambezi West’s problem of large size and difficult terrain.
2. Splitting Zambezi West Constituency into two will not solve the problem of Zambezi East’s large size and population.
3. Expecting to get two constituencies to cater for the problems of Zambezi East Constituency and Zambezi West Constituency is unrealistic given the fact that there are other competing demands for the creation of new constituencies through out the country . Even in North Western Province, for example, there are districts which are constituencies that need to be split into constituencies such as Chavuma district, Mufumbwe District and Kasempa District. There are also large constituencies such as Mwinilunga that new constituencies. Zambezi therefore cannot expect to get two constituencies at the expense of other districts in the country.
4. The political, historical and cultural conflicts in Zambezi District deserve a permanent solution. The basic problem in Zambezi is that of a power struggle between Lundas and Luvales, between Senior Chief Inshindi of the Lunda people and Senior Chief Ndungu of the Luvale speaking people. The power struggle is about control over the boma in Zambezi urban.
This problem has been exacerbated by the current Electoral system where politicians tend to appeal to either the Lunda speaking people or Luvale speaking people in order to win the election. This is promoting tribalism in Zambezi District. What is needed is an electoral system THAT WILL HELP TO UNITE THE PEOPLE.
In my opinion, we need a candidate that will be neutral and unite Lundas and Luvales, a candidate who will be acceptable and campaign freely in Lunda land and Luvale land. Such a candidate, if he wins the parliamentary election, will take into account the interests of both the Lundas and Luvales .
Based on this theory, I tend to agree with the group that is advocating for the creation of Zambezi Central Constituency, which will be a constituency created from parts of Zambezi East Constituency and Zambezi West Constituency .