THE meeting called by the people of Southern Province will gravely offend the spirit of unity and One Zambia One Nation motto if its agenda is going to be exclusively based on tribe, President Edgar Lungu has said.
President Lungu said he had no problem with the people of Southern Province meeting but the people of the region should know that Zambians would be concerned if the meeting was going to be exclusively tribal because it had the danger of separating families.
Special assistant to the President for Press and public relations Amos Chanda said the Head of State was hopeful the people who would be meeting on Sunday were not going to make the “peripheral issues” of tribe the main topic of their discussion.
Mr Chanda stated that President Lungu was of the view that if the people mobilizing for the meeting were doing so on the basis of tribe, such a conduct should shame those calling for the meeting to discuss tribalism.
President Lungu was hopeful that the people mobilizing for the meeting could drop the tribal agenda and take heed of the advice of UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema who has curtly condemned tribalism describing it as a non-issue.
Mr Chanda said President Lungu was happy with the stance Mr Hichilema had taken against tribalism stating that the UPND had shown magnanimity by asking Zambians to unite across political and regional lines in resolving some of the challenges the country was currently facing.
“We hope those calling for the meeting will not attempt to pollute the minds of our royal highnesses in the region. President Lungu met the chiefs in Siavonga on Saturday and he was happy with the meeting. The President, while respecting the right of the people to assemble and to associate freely, he will be sad if the meeting called by our brothers and sisters in Southern Province will be exclusively tribal. To call it the meeting of the Tonga is extremely sad.
We have no problems with the people of Southern Province meeting and discussing matters affecting them but if it is going to be exclusively tribal, then let them know it offends the spirit of One Zambia One Nation and can easily break families, Mr Chanda said.
And the traditional leadership in Southern Province is not part of the meeting of the Tonga people that has been called by the people in the region to discuss and take a common position on Patriotic Front (PF) secretary general Davis Chama’s offensive statements and the impact it could have on the unity of the country.
Both chief Chikanta of Kalomo and Edson Kamakowa, one of the organisers of the meeting confirmed that the traditional leaders had not been invited to the meeting dubbed Chuundu Chaitwa to be held on Sunday in Monze.
Chief Chikanta said the traditional leaders would instead be meeting provincial Minister Nathaniel Mubukwanu today to discuss among other things the derogatory and offensive statement by Mr Chama.
According to the notice published in the media yesterday, the chiefs have been asked to send their representative to the meeting which would focus on the unity of the country which it said had its foundation in the diversity of the people.
Mr Hamakowa said the people organising the Sunday meeting would not make any statement to the media until after the meeting.
He said the people organising the meeting had no mandate to speak on behalf of any one in Southern Province and that a comprehensive statement would be issued after the meeting on Sunday.
And chief Chikanta told the Daily Nation yesterday that the traditional leadership in Southern Province would be meeting with Mr Mubukwanu with whom they would be discussing Mr Chama’s offensive statements.
Chief Chikanta said the chiefs were seeking dialogue with Government and the ruling party because that was the best way of resolving differences.