Open letter to Lungu

To His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia

Edgar Chagwa Lungu (PhD)

Nkwazi House, Plot 1- Lusaka

29th October 2020

Dear Mr President

I write this letter to you as the Head of Government and State in my capacity as a voter and citizen of this country, asking you to relieve Ms. Dora Siliya of her duties as Minster of Information in your cabinet with immediate effect.

On 28th October 2020, 9 days after the National Day of Prayer, Fasting, Reconciliation and Repentance, and exactly 3 days after our 56th Independence Anniversary, we woke up to a screaming headline concerning the Chief Government Spokesperson and Minister of Information and Broadcasting services Ms. Dora Siliya that the people of Southern Province had risen against the people of Eastern Province. According to the story carried by the News Diggers Newspapers dated 28th October 2020 and the audio message accompanying the same, Ms. Siliya is reported to have told the people of Eastern Province that voting for another person from another province other than Eastern Province would result into reduced development especially agriculture in Eastern Province as it happened when Former President Rupia Bwezani Banda, an Easterner, was replaced by Mr Michael Sata (MHSRP), a Northerner, whose staple food was cassava.

Mr President, there is a growing feeling among citizens that the continued tribal remarks by PF and government officials are the official position of  the PF and the Government,under your leadership, has given the remarks blessings. This feeling has been premised on the numerous tribal sentiments uttered by members of your party and Cabinet without any serious action from you as not only the appointing authority, but also Head of State. We have not heard even just a word of condemnation from you? Should we assume that you probably are not even aware of these remarks being made? If that’s the case, then it becomes an even more worrisome issue.

I appreciate that on a few occasions, you have spoken against tribalism and the need for citizens to promote national unity because we are Zambians first before our tribal belonging. However, what some sections of society including myself fail to appreciate is why you do not take action against those in government and your party who fail to follow your guidance on national unity and the spirit of one Zambia one Nation. Your remarks on tribalism are a mere blanket that does not deal with specific instances which we expected you to deal with. Your government, Mr. President acted decisively against one of your former ministers when he allegedly used hate speech against an Indian contractor in Zambia. The matter is currently in court. Why can’t the police, Mr. President, act with the same velocity against your officials? Is it that they need clearance from you to do so?

Mr. President, what is particularly worrisome is that these tribal remarks by your officials are made specifically against a specific group of citizens of our country in a manner that is consistent, systematic and targeted.  You will recall that the tribal remarks that were uttered by Professor Nkandu Luo, Mr Christopher Yaluma and now Ms. Dora Siliya, all full Cabinet Ministers in your government, were all targeted at the Tonga-speaking people of Southern Province while canvassing voter support in areas perceived to be your party’s strongholds. Is this the official position of government under your leadership? Not more than two weeks ago, one of the officials, Mr.  Kapyanga, the Youth Chairman for Muchinga Province declared Muchinga as your bedroom and that other citizens other than PF members who would want to solicit votes from that region were cockroaches and rats who deserved to be killed.  Seriously? Does this not show you where we are headed to? And you expect people other than yourself and members of the Patriotic Front to feel safe in Muchinga Province? Are you telling me that there are sacred spaces in this country reserved only for those who go to bed with the Party?

Mr. President, our country has enjoyed relative peace and stability from independence. Unlike you and those close to you, some of us have all our families, investments and umbilical-cords buried right here in Zambia. We don’t have another country to call home other than Zambia and we are not ready to flee to other countries in search of asylum and refuge. It is this for this reason that I appeal to you to show leadership and take action against party and government officials who are trading on the dangerous grounds of tribalism.

The consequences of tribal and ethnic rivalries on the African continent are well documented and are there of all of us see and learn. Mr President when you went to Rwanda and visited the genocide sites, you shedded tears and vowed to undertake reforms in Zambia to avoid what happened in the country you visited.  Why are you watching and doing nothing when the seeds of genocide are being planted in Zambia rights before your eyes?

Mr President, I trust that you will take tangible actions against tribalism in Zambia. However, in an event that you don’t take action, Zambians will view you as an accomplice in the tribal scheme and your legacy of a humble President be at stake. Further, if you do not take appropriate action within reasonable time, I together with other concerned patriotic citizens will do everything lawfully possible to preserve our national peace and unity which is being threatened by government and PF party officials. I fully understand the risks and consequences of standing up to your regime, but what difference has our fear done to the country other than see the country get ruined?

Just remember, Mr President, remember that whenever there is a problem that persists, it means that leadership has failed in that instance. While we are all responsible for everything that happens in this country, you remain our Number 1 citizen who should therefore know that we will blame you if you fail to take action on issues like the one we are dealing with. If anything goes wrong, we will definitely focus.

I look forward to your quick action on the matters I have raised.

Yours faithfully,

Nicholas Phiri – Concerned Citizen.    

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