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Edgar Lungu must desist from insulting Tongas or I will personally deal with him the first time I meet him

By Prof. Michelo Hansungule

Some few days back, president Edgar Lungu was without provocation unashamedly spewing his hatred against the Tonga people – why? Why does Edgar find it so easy to pop up the word ‘Tonga’ from his head? Why does he find it so easy to insult and demean the Tonga? This is not the first time Edgar has made demeaning statements and insinuations against Tongas and I want to take him on. In the latest statement, he was quoted as having said HH who happens to be Tonga by birth will never be president of Zambia but that a Tonga president is a possibility.

This is ridiculous to say the least. Edgar ought to know that according to the constitution which in fact he is credited by the University to have written, tribes do not contest the presidency. It is individual citizens who can aspire to contest the presidency, not tribes. Or is he saying he is a tribal president? I will believe it if that is the point he is driving at. Nevertheless, there is nothing in article 43 of the constitution which empowers tribes to put up candidates for election to the presidency and what a shame that a whole president is preoccupied with tribes in politics?

Edgar Lungu must not be allowed (I will certainly not allow him) to make irresponsible tribally inclined statements insulting and demeaning people that are not even in politics. I am Tonga by birth but so what? Why should I be a suspect only because of tribal affiliation yet it is my birth condition? One must be uncivilised to the extreme to conjure up nothing but tribes in one’s head. No one, least of all the president of a country should be seeing things in terms of tribes. If you have a problem with your political opponents, try be mature to limit your political game to them as individuals.

The constitution itself has deep respect for our ethnic groups. The preamble, inter alia, states:
‘Recognise and uphold the ethnic multi racial religious and multicultural character of our Nation and our right to manage our affairs and resources sustainably in a devolved system of governance’.

This liberal undertone is deliberate given the character of the Zambian society. Zambia is a melting pot which long before the establishment of Zambia hosted all on the basis of equality. Article 19 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which is applicable to Zambia read with article 2 of the same forbids and in fact criminalises group based or ethnic discrimination. Based on this law, all ethnic groups are equal and must be treated equally. Tribalism is an offence under the Zambian Penal Code and quite rightly so because civilised people deserve to be protected from sick minds who see Zambia in terms of tribes.
If the law is timid and hence fails to act against born tribalists, society have a duty to put them right. From now on, anyone who incites tribalism regardless of their position in society should be put right. This is in order to protect the civilisation gains we have achieved over time and to protect people from worse things that will follow reckless handling of multi ethnic societies such as ours. Our politicians should grow up and respect diversity. Diversity is what makes Zambia what it is and it should be celebrated rather than held in contempt. Holders of state institutions in particular have a higher responsibility to demonstrate leadership through their utterances, conduct and behaviour. And people must demonstrate their diverse make up by making it difficult for tribalists regardless of their office and rank to live let alone to indulge in their sick games. Every group should feel Zambian and be proud of what they are. God did not only make some groups, he made all. To insult, marginalise or ridicule some groups is to insult God who made them. Today is Sunday, let us pray for extinction of tribalists.

By Prof Hasungule

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