By Mwiine Lubemba
The Paramount Chief Chitimukulu – Mwinelubemba, the King of the Bemba people has done us proud to refuse to be drawn into petty political commentary.
He doesn’t want to be associated with the political fiasco of vice presidential running mate endorsements. He said someone else issued the statement attributed to him that said: “Umulembwe wa chipuba upwila muli tumfwe.”
We should believe our chief and obey his command that we should all strive to become a nation of one people under our founding fathers slogan of “One Zambia-One Nation.” This means Bemba tribalism, Lozi Tribalism, Ngoni, Chewa, Tonga, Tumbuka, Kaonde, Lunda, Luvale, Lenje, Chokwe, Mbunda, Ila, Namwanga, Lungu, Ushi, Biza, Leya tribalism, and so forth in whatever form must be exposed when it emerges and shows its ugly face in our politics.
After endorsing Mr Godfrey Bwalya Mwamba as his presidential running mate, media reports said Mr Hakainde Hichilema and Mr Godfrey Mwamba were boasting that they had done a “Don’t Kubeba” on Lungu and the PF.
Accordingly, they are beaming with confidence and they’re now so sure that their HH/GBM team will win them the Bemba people’s bloc vote this August 11 election.
I need not remind colleagues familiar with the aftermath of the UNIP/ANC Choma declaration. They were some happy faces when it was signed but there were still some wounded faces that today are finally emerging to show us their ugly faces yet again. But we’re digressing…
I bring this up because last Sunday, after my 10 hours Mass at St Ignatius, I was asked to pick up a family friend at a church located in Villa Elizabeth and not knowing where exactly it was, I strayed into what turned out to be perhaps the oldest church in Lusaka to get some directions but was at a loss as most congregants I found outside the church could hardly converse fluently with me in Nyanja as they deliberately decided to answer me while they spoke amongst themselves in Tonga about what I was talking about.
I picked on a young lady in broken Tonga mixed with some English when I overheard two gentlemen, whom I’m sure were aware of my presence, loudly and intentionally within my hearing range were boasting that with GBM on their side, they had the entire August 11 election wrapped up.
I recognised, amongst this church going, God fearing group of men, one is a Medical Doctor I met at a private clinic. I’m sure as he’s the one who boastfully and confidently told his friends -“GBM is from the Bemba royal family.”
I was flabbergasted!
It’s the least I expected to hear come from a fairly educated Medical Doctor.
The problem with this line of logic is that it assumes, regardless of all other tribes on the political scene in Zambia, the Bemba’s will vote for the UPND candidates because of the mere presence of Mr Mwamba who is bemba and has been made the presidential running mate.
It also assumes that the Southern Province Tonga voting bloc, where this Medical Doctor comes from, and like in all previous elections-is already assured and it’ll definitely vote on tribal lines and therefore, the election has already been tribally rigged in favour and won by the UPND.
In this case, the Bemba voting bloc, outside of several other tribes in Zambia, is the most strategic tribe the Southern Province Tonga voting bloc wanted to be associated with and to coerce joining the UPND.
To these people, the mere presence of Mr Mwamba, whom they consider is tribally strategic, as a running mate in their predominantly Tonga party means all the Bemba’s on the Copperbelt and Northern Province will now vote UPND and Hichilema.
This also means, with Mr Mwamba on their side, they’ve achieved what they’ve been always looking for, a stepping stone to assist them ensure a Tonga man finally wins the presidency.
I’m awake to the fact that these are tribal remarks and thoughts that may provoke some of my Tonga colleagues into outrage, but it’s the truth. Morality and tribal equality in this HH/GBM tribally crafted political marriage of convenience is out of the question.
It is the opposite of what it was intended. It’s definitely the reason why the Mwinelubemba disassociated himself from the statement attributed to him.
It’s deceitful—political expediency– nothing to do with tribal balancing—it smells of typical small minded tribalism at its best. In as far as these Tonga congregants I found at this old church are concern; they’ll get HH to do anything to get hold of the presidency.
You say, “OK, Mwiine Lubemba, everyone knows about the Tonga’s and the Southern Province voting patterns. They have since independence predominantly voted on tribal lines and that’s why the African National Congress of Mr Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula could not form government. So; don’t you get yourself worked up—Ba Professor Lubemba.”
You see, I’m getting worked up because if well-educated people think the entire logic behind Mr Mwamba’s appointment is to get the Bemba vote, then it belittles the Bemba-speaking people that they can be given a man chosen for them by Mr Hichilema.
It shows a serious lack of helicopter view in assessing the tribal unifying facts on the ground.
It’s a dangerous lack of analysis that assumes the Bemba’s are incapable of making non-tribal wise decisions of their own and Mr Hichilema has given them a window of opportunity to have a vice president from their own royal family.
It also assumes the Bemba’s have no confidence in their own Bemba speaking sons and daughters who are presidents of other political parties such as the UDF, FDD, UNIP, Green Party, ZRP etc whom they could easily have voted to become president if indeed they are the so called strategic tribal voting bloc that Mr Hichilema thinks they are and if indeed, political power, at any cost, is all what the Bemba want.
It assumes the Bemba’s are stupid not to know they can’t be enticed by a presidential running mate slot regardless of the entire UPND shadow cabinet positions, of Permanent Secretaries and Foreign missions in a possible UPND government being predominantly Tonga occupied.
It assumes the Bemba’s are so stupid they must now be grateful to Mr Hichilema and reward him by giving him an equivocal vote of appreciation for appointing Mr Mwamba a running mate?
But seriously, is this the way politics of desperation will be conducted in Zambia? That seemingly bigger tribesmen regardless of their IQ will rule over seemingly smaller tribes perhaps with smarter IQs?
Does this mean even when two bright men or women of the same tribe are presented before the country they cannot become president and running mate because we’ve to be aware of tribal balancing—where another tribesman perhaps from a bigger tribe but with an IQ of a rabid rogue will be preferred?
What will happen to those, so called, ‘other’ smaller tribes with smart men and women but without their tribal representatives in the various political parties?
Will these, so called, smaller tribes with bright – young-smart men and women be left out of the decision making process and governance of the country?
What will happen when, as things look like, more Bemba-speaking people on the Copperbelt and Northern Province are likely to vote PF and Lungu than UPND and Hichilema?
When that happens, does it mean Mr Hichilema will then turn round and say –Hey! Look you ungrateful Bemba lot; I gave you a Bemba running mate from your own royal family and you didn’t vote for him?
Now that he has made me lose this election, you’ll all suffer under PF? Is that what will happen?
Is that what will happen, in case of all improbabilities the UPND wins, they’ll treat other tribes unfairly? Won’t those be tribal-regional behaviour and a remark to make even if Mr Hichilema today claims that because of Mr Mwamba his party the UPND is no longer tribal?
Above all, we saw Mr Lungu appear on live TV after the rumours on social media spread that he was flown to South Africa for emergency medical treatment, the immediate question became who takes over—in case of?
Now suppose a similar misfortune and not a rumour was to befall Mr Hichilema, would the Tonga people in Southern Province still vote for Mr Mwamba with Dr Canisius Banda as his running mate on August 11?
No. Guys! It can’t—it’ll never- happen. Not based on this tribally arranged-political marriage of convenience.
So, does Mr Hichilema really think the Bemba-speaking people need special favours from him just because he has appointed Mr Mwamba as his running mate? No, I don’t think the Bemba people need any special favours from Mr Hichilema.
Just a thought,