TRIBALISM is an evil that must never be allowed in Zambia and political leaders who aspire to assume the governance of the country on the basis of ethnicity should be frowned upon, President Edgar Lungu has charged.
He said he was alive to the historical fact of how UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema ascended to the presidency of the opposition political party following the death of its founder Anderson Mazoka.
President Lungu said prominent lawyer Sakwiba Sikota was denied the chance of becoming the president of the UPND after the death of Mr Mazoka on account that he was not Tonga even when he was heir to the position.
Addressing a rally in Senanga yesterday, President Lungu charged that no political leader should be voted or given the mandate to preside over the affairs of the country on the basis of tribe or ethnicity.
The President said Zambia had remained united since independence and that citizens were enjoying peace and unity irrespective of their divergent regional beliefs. He stated that it was irresponsible for some political leaders to embark on the campaign of sowing seeds of tribal divisions.
President Lungu said Zambians hated and abhorred tribalism because they had always lived as a united citizenry.
“Do not hate those you disagree with because we are one people. I have been forced to take time to talk about tribalism because there are some political leaders who believe that they can only take up the governance of this country on the basis of tribe. We know what happened when the founding leader of the UPND, Anderson Mazoka died. There was a declaration that only a Tonga was to become the president of a party and Sakwiba Sikota was rejected because he did not hail from that region. Tribalism is an evil and must never be allowed to have space in this country,” President Lungu said.
He said what was regrettable, however, was that some leaders of the opposition parties were not condemning violence and vulgar language among their cadres and leaders.
The Head of State said he was confident that the Patriotic Front (PF) was going to win the August general elections because of its achievements in the last few years the party had been in Government.
“Some political parties are saying it is our turn to govern. Governing the country has nothing to do with tribe…it is not about being Lozi, Nsenga, Bemba but what you can do for the people,” President Lungu said.
He stated that after the death of Michael Sata, some people declared that only a Bemba was supposed to take over but that Zambians rejected the call and instead chose him to succeed the late president.
He said all the people who were advocating for tribalism in the PF had left and had either formed their small tribal parties or had joined other political parties.
“Those who wanted another Bemba to take over the leadership of the PF after the death of president Sata will continue to fight me. When I appointed Inonge Wina as my Vice-President, they were angry with me. We are going to fight tribalism wherever it will show its ugly head, so let us not believe politicians who believe only tribe can make them leaders,” President Lungu said.