THE meeting called for the Tonga people is most startling.
Responding to a tribal jibe by calling for a full tribal meeting does not seem to be the best way of responding to a discredited and repudiated statement. None other than President. Edgar Lungu has personally made the point of meeting chiefs in the Province to assuage and limit the damage.
Unwittingly the planned meeting will play into the hands of those who have called the Southern Province a Bantustan, a derogatory epithet that was designed to annoy and disparage.
They have capitalized on the “regrettable” Chama statement to fan the flames of dissent and conflict, from which they hope to benefit.
Although the Southern Province has been characterized as a Bantustan, we do not believe that the people are tribally inclined because they gave Frederick Chiluba, a Lunda from Luapula Province 82 percent of the vote in 1991. This represented more than 37 percent of the total registered voters in southern province, this compares favorably to the 49 percent voter turnout in 2015 which gave HH a near 90 percent vote.
But more importantly it is less than seven months ago that a particularly divisive and polarizing Presidential election was held. It is indisputable that the results still rancor for the regional connotation exhibited.
The predilection of the Southern Province was clear and did not bode well for many Zambians that worked with and subscribed to the cause of the Movement for Multi Party Democracy (MMD) that ushered in the multiparty dispensation.
The MMD was a cross cutting movement that drew support across regional, sectarian and indeed tribal affiliation. It had broken the ogre of tribal politics imbedded in the African National Congress and UNIP- resulting in the One Zambia One Nation slogan.
Many Zambians looked forward to politics of substance and progressive public policy rather than divisive regional politics, which coincidentally almost led to the resignation of first president Kenneth Kaunda when Southern and Northern Provinces formed an alliance that predominated the UNIP Council against the Western, Eastern alliance.
The evil of sectarianism are plain to see and undoubtedly, any collective action that reinforces and drives a wedge between the many tribes in Zambia will be condemned by posterity.
As on now Zambia is a melting point in which no single tribe will dominate, not the Bembas not the Ngonis, not the Tonga’s no tribe will on its own form government.
God has gifted us a composition that thrives on synergy rather than sectarian attributes. There is no question that Hakainde Hichilema would have won the last elections if it was not for the support of fourth republican president, Rupiah Bwezani Banda, who traversed the country to garner support from estranged MMD members.
Therefore, the overt character of a singular tribal meeting in the face of current political restiveness is not only unwise but is a real danger that will further distance the Tonga people from the rest of Zambian society.
The saddest part is that Tongas who may not have any commitment to a sectarian agenda will be bundled into the one cause.