Scramble for Bemba tribal influence

Dear Editor

There is nothing new under the sun.

The situation confronting the Patriotic Front (PF) today is not new. It has happened before. Only the players have changed.

Those old enough will remember the year 1968 when the then ruling party UNIP was confronted with the problem of  angry “founder” members and freedom fighters who felt alienated at being bypassed for jobs and benefits in preference for people  from Provinces that  did not participate in the struggle or were indeed complicit with the colonial regime.

Left sitting on the benches and political terraces they did not appreciate Dr. Kaunda’s tribal balancing aimed at “tribal” inclusiveness.

The complaints became so tribal that Dr. Kaunda was forced to resign.

Dr. Kaunda resigned during a National Council conference held at Chilenje Hall, Lusaka, on February 5 when ferocious tribal differences erupted.  There were demands for tribal representation in party committees and civil service.

This gave rise to the formation of the United Progressive Party led by Simon Kapwepwe who, may his soul rest in peace, graciously re-joined UNIP.

KK resigned and was persuaded to return because he was seen as an impartial power broker among the competing interest groups.

Dr. Kaunda was accepted as a leader by all because he was a compromise candidate who would not favour any one region. Nearly all groups had an equal chance of participating in Governance through tribal balancing.

Fortunately President Frederick Chiluba came into power under the Movement for Multiparty Democracy emerged and united the country across all kinds of tribal divisions.

There is no denying that the struggle for independence was strongest on the Copperbelt where migrant labour working on the mines mainly came from neighbouring Luapula and Northern Province. The link meant that Chachacha and other “rebellious” outbreaks were more pronounced in these provinces. Things have not no changed very much.

Zambians should not allow history to repeat itself. Leaders seeking a shortcut to power by being populist and waving the tribal wand are a grave danger to the country.

Like Donald Trump they may indeed carry the day but at what cost to the country?

Zambia has moved from those dark days and the new initiative for a new tribal saviour should be dealt with very cautiously.

Those who use the divisive influence of tribe to determine politics should not be entertained because the outcome will be disastrous for the country.

Let us not go back to “tribal” politics because power competition between the so called dominant ethnic groups will cause havoc for this country. We should learn from such countries as Rwanda and Burundi where single groups were allowed to dominate resulting in never ending conflict.

The same is true of Somalia where two groups of the same tribe have rendered the country totally ungovernable.

The GBM/HH alliance is a throwback and  intends to take the country back to 1968 when Zambian politics became highly contentious on issues that had nothing to do with governance or public policy.

We should not go back to that very dangerous precipice where individuals use tribe to gain power.

Zambia is bigger than any one tribe or grouping. People should also remember that these arrangements of tribal convenience are very artificial and are therefore bound to fracture because no single tribe in Zambia has a monopoly and preponderance to subdue all.

So perhaps GBM or indeed Kambwili may carry some people with them into the alliance as envisaged in the 1968 arrangement but will they be trusted and will they carry Luapula, Copperbelt and the rest of Mchinga?

What if the arrangement fails after delivery of power, what then?

The days of strongmen are gone. These are days for cerebral leaders who persuade by logic and reason rather than seeking sympathy using the tribal persecution narrative.

The current narrative that those who supported Michael Sata are being hounded out of the PF is one such narrative that is intended to take back Zambia to 1968.

Those who advocate it are a danger to national unity.




The Chishimba Kambwili dilemma

Dear Editor,

If there is any lesson to be learnt in the ruling PF, it is this: “You don’t mess with the old timers who’ve joined your party from other political parties as new members.”

They’ve mastered the art of patience – and the dark science of politics.

Chishimba Kambwili, the PF Roan member of parliament, it appears mastered none of these.

Now he’s about to politically bleed badly, as the governing party’s given him a seven day-ultimatum in which to exculpate himself or face disciplinary action for, among other things accusing Luanshya Mayor Nathan Chanda of practicing witchcraft (“Kambwili faces expulsion”, Sunday Nation, January 1, 2017).

Firstly, he was fired as a cabinet minister, while reports in the

public domain claim that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), is circling around the alleged millions of Kwacha that Kambwili had made in dubious transactions, using his political clout.

Ironically, he’s a curious example of how to be graft-free. Politically, the fate that’s about to befall Kambwili had been long in coming.

Finally, the hammer would soon fall when he’s charged and convicted of, among other things, sowing division in the mother PF body between founder and new members.

Three months has hardly expired after getting fired as information minister when his motor-mouth’s got him in trouble again.

Among other transgressions, he’s openly called for the PF to go for a general conference in spite of the party having had two general conferences in less than five years with the first being in 2011 at which the late President Michael Sata and other members of the Central Committee were elected.

After the death of late Michael Sata in 2014, again the PF as a political organization that believed in intra-party democracy called for an impromptu general conference which saw the election of President Edgar Lungu and others in the ruling party’s top hierarchy.

Due to the foregoing, and that the PF secretary general Davies Mwila’s repeatedly made it clear that discipline is one of the key pillars in the life of the governing party.

It is true that the disgruntled Kambwili has been a nightmare when it comes to discipline within PF.

He’s shown disrespect to everyone. Now his bubble is about to burst.

Believe it or not, as Kambwili had been touted as a kingmaker in the dominant Bemba ethnic regions of Northern, Muchinga, Luapula and Copperbelt provinces, PF’s political rivals have taken note and backed him.

Nobody knows how many secret meetings he may have had, but it seems apparent that without the backing of some powerful politicians in the infamous cartel, Kambwili would never have had the temerity to do some of the surprising things he’s done, to the extent of prematurely calling for the holding of the PF general conference.


Mubanga Luchembe,


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