I would like to thank Paramount Chief Chitimukulu of the Bemba-speaking people for highlighting that politicians are the chief architects of tribalism or ethnicity in the country because of their selfish political motives (“Chitimukulu canes politicians” – Sunday Nation, May 1, 2016).
Zambia is home to some 72 different ethnic groups and has large populations of Asians, Mixed-race people (coloureds) and Europeans.
The country has always been a multi-ethnic and multi-racial society.
We have not only lived together in mixed urban and rural communities, but also regularly celebrate our unique ethnic and cultural differences and ceremonies annually.
We have not only rubbed our shoulders happily with each Other over the years, but also celebrated our unique ethnic and cultural cousinship (Chimbuya).
What then was the cause of Paramount Chief Chitimukulu’s expressed concerns? Is it tribalism created by political elites using ethnicity to cover up their own failings and motives?
Truly, ethnicity is a disease of the political elite. It is the politicians who, in competition for government positions in the country, resort to ethnicity as a tool for discrimination against each other.
And they benefit unfairly in the name of the tribe or community. They use it as a shield, especially when they commit a graft crime and have to dance to the legal music in court.
But when they are enjoying the ill-gotten loot, there is nothing like the tribe.
What is interesting is that most of the serious ethnic scuffles in Zambia are political.
The reason why they are political is simply because such discussions only appear around election time. Politicians take advantage to rabble-rouse because it is easy to ride on ethnicity to get elected.
One just tells them, ‘you are my tribesmen, you don’t need to check my leadership qualities, whether I am a poor political leader or not, all you need to remember is that I am from your tribe’. So, is ethnicity political strength or weakness? You decide.
Under the amended Constitution, such rabble-rousing could land one before a court of law.
The age of impunity that thrived during the MMD regime is over now. Politicians beware, you break the law, you pay the price.