POLITICS OF HATE: A CASE OF ETHNIC TENSION IN THE SHADOW OF PF IDEOLOGY, PF TO BLAME
By Chali Nondo
I have received numerous requests from concerned citizens and patriotic comrades to comment on ethnic tension and tribal rhetoric that are seemingly taking a turn for the worst in a southern African country, Zambia. In as much as I have tried to stay away from this debate for a number of reasons which am not prepared to discuss in this posting, I feel compelled to play justice to those that are thirsty for unbiased literature on this very sensitive subject.
Am also informed beyond any doubt that this subject has veered off the track because of partisan politics. It is thus right to assert that that the raging debate is currently shrouded in a hive of partisan politics with each party blaming the other and on one hand an army of disollutioned characters have hijacked the debate to suite their egos and their selfish ambitions. Needless to say, the state has a bigger role to play to ensure that the episode does not degenerate into a mountain of volcano. When that happens, no one is safe including those that are currently enjoying the monopoly of power and privilege. No tribe is greater than the other. Anyone who harbors such thoughts is mentally handicapped destined to a mental facility.
Unfortunately, the governing PF party is largely responsible for the ongoing ethnic hatred which is permeating all corners of the society at a lightening speed. Senior party and government officials have in the recent past issued quite inflammatory tribal sentiments without facing any sanctions. Instead, these misguided leaders were applauded and saluted by their subjects to a defeaning gesture befitting a hero. Their master too was humbled and patted them on their back symbolizing a gesture of “well done comrades”. This display ignited flared tempers among the southerners who had anticipated the humble master to rebuke and sanction the disciples of tribal hatred. It occurred to me that the PF has ostensibly sneaked in a deliberate policy in their manifesto to ridicule southerners with impunity. PF sympathizers acting with their leaders have waged a vigorous and sustained campaign to annihilate southerners. The social and mainstream media are filthy with the most disgusting insults never seen in the history of Zambia directed at the Tonga speaking people. Do southerners really deserve such a hostile treatment from a governing party? I guess they deserve to be treated with a decorum of respect as equal citizens in their native country.
A vicious and calculated propaganda is playing out to demonize southerners as inherently tribal for voting in overwhelming numbers for UPND whose fore founder, the late Anderson Kambela Mazoka and the current leader Hakainde Hichilema both hail from the south. There is nothing strange about voters in their native heritage to associate themselves with particular candidates based on shared values, ideology, culture, language and ethnicity. It will be silly for anyone to expect a Lozi candidate get substantial votes in an election held in Mununga or Kashikishi in Luapula province. In Africa where ethnicity and cultural norms rank high in our daily lives, political choices and opinions are largely motivated by these factors not necessarily entailing tribal hatred for others. In 1991 when it was quite evident that Zambia was decided to retire the post colonial governing party of UNIP, Eastern province chose to stick with UNIP and was the only province to retain 25 parliamentarians for that party. My limited assumption is drawn on the fact that easterners largely identified themselves with the UNIP leader Dr Kenneth Kaunda whose roots are in Malawi as one of their own despite his heritage being Lubwa mission in the northern Chinsali as his birthplace.
The point am driving in this argument is to demonstrate convincingly how the governing PF is reinforcing the notion of ethnic divide on the basis of voting patterns in southern province where as it was politically right for easterners to cuddle with UNIP in 1991. UPND has been around before PF and its leader Edgar Lungu stepped into the wheels of power but never at anytime did the country get suffocated by real and practical fears of tribal tension to this magnitude. To push my argument further, it’s the same UPND which in 2001 under the leadership of Mazoka had a commanding lead in urban Lusaka and came so close to forming government. At that time the current crop of PF leadership that is trumpeting tribal slogans had not yet been hatched.
I therefore conclude earnestly without hesitation that the ensuing ethnic tension is the brainchild of PF’s recklessness and misrule. It’s their emblem and their ideology to confuse the masses, sow a seed of hate and division for the sole purpose of perpetuating their hold on to power. However, the anger, disunity and political instability brewing in the nation have far reaching consequences to the fragile economy. In other words, untamed ethnic hatred retards economic, social and human development. It’s foolish and utter stupid to think that there is political gain from championing tribal hatred.
The blame falls squarely on PF and its sympathizers for orchestrating such an ugly and divisive project that is threatening the existence of mankind. The blood that will spill today and tomorrow will evaporate in anger and those that are currently massaging this evil will stand in pain in their own skins and sweat when they come face – to – face with the angry masses.
Communication strategist and international development analyst