That traditional leaders in Southern Province are aggrieved by sentiments attributed to the Patriotic Front Secretary-General is not in contention.
That statement however, was not only ‘offensive’ to the people who hail from Southern Province, but to the entire nation, because the intermarriages that have taken place in this country, have ensured that the greater percentage of Zambians, have links with the province.
It is now not unusual to have names such as Choolwe Banda, Mutinta Mwansa, and so on.
Chiefs countrywide therefore have a duty to promote unity rather than preaching divisive discussions such as secession, as it would be a difficult feat to achieve given our demographics.
Southern Province is no longer a preserve for one particular tribe, and neither is Muchinga, or Western or eastern province.
These are other tribes that have married into Southern Province and southerners themselves have also married from other tribes in Zambia.
There are also workers who do not necessarily hail from Southern Province but who are found in the province because of circumstances and job opportunities. It is therefore unreasonable for anyone to think of seceding when the consequences are obvious and can lead to a disruption of life involving a lot of families.
Therefore, to base a decision to establish a separate country on disparaging statements by a ruling party official against one of the tribes in Southern Province is totally uncalled for.
What the traditional leaders should have been discussing is the route Chief Chikanta has taken of presenting their grievances to the Government.
Southern Province has a minister appointed by President Edgar Lungu who the traditional leaders could have approached to arrange a meeting with the head of State.We believe the traditional leaders know this route and should not have allowed themselves to be used by those who agitate for rash actions.
We say this because before the Lwindi Gonde ceremony began, there was a statement by the organisers that they would not entertain anything related to politics.
It was the organisers’ view that the traditional ceremony should serve only its purpose of celebrating their harvest.
It is therefore surprising that instead of sticking to celebration of the harvest, some traditional leaders introduced the topic on secession over a matter that Vice President Inonge Wina had already taken up. Those with good memory will remember that a few weeks ago Mrs Wina told the people who welcomed her at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula that the ruling party will in due course issue a comprehensive statement on allegations that PF Secretary General Davis Chama disparaged the people of Southern Province. With this background, should secession arise when the matter is already in the hands of the Vice President.
Surely, is it not only fair on the part of traditional leaders to inquire about what was causing the delay to issue a comprehensive statement on allegations against Mr Chama rather than take a route which may be disruptive?
We welcome President Edgar Lungu’s olive branch and urge our traditional leaders to promote peace rather than making statement to have the potential of dividing Zambia on tribal lines.
For over 50 years, Zambians have enjoyed peace as belonging to one unitary State and this should be encouraged.