THERE was a near punch-up yesterday in the lobby of the office of the Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda between a Lusaka businessman Prince Costen Simamba and deputy minister of Works and Supply Mwimba Malama when the two differed over tribal remarks against each other.
Mr Malama and Prince Simamba almost turned the lobby of the office of Mr Chikwanda into a boxing ring much to the surprise of other government officials and workers.
Prince Simamba annoyed Mr Mumba when he claimed that Bembas had messed up the country because of their poor governance styles and because of being allegedly tribal in the administration of the country.
The alleged tribal jibe by Prince Simamba angered Mr Malama who immediately demanded an apology because the country had been ruled by five presidents with two not associated to the tribes in the Northern and Luapula provinces.
Mr Malama confirmed to the Daily Nation that Prince Simamba nearly beat him (Malama) up but it took the intervention of Mazabuka Central Member of Parliament (MP) Garry Nkombo and Road Development Agency (RDA) chairman Willy Nsanda to separate the two who were in the lobby.
Prince Simamba claimed that from 1964, Zambia had been governed by leaders from Northern and Luapula provinces charging that the people from the two regions had messed up the country.
Prince Simamba said apart from late president Levy Mwanawasa and immediate past president Rupiah Banda, Zambia had been ruled by people from the Northern and Luapula provinces who he said had led the country to what it currently was both politically and economically.
He wondered why Tongas were being branded tribal and allegedly being stopped from participating in the governance of the country Mr Malama did not take kindly and reminded his adversary that Zambia should never be divided on tribal inclinations because the country was anchored on the maxim of one Zambia one nation.
Mr Malama was further angered when Prince Simamba said Tongas were not responsible for the high inflation alleging that most of the government offices were occupied by people from Northern and Luapula regions.
But Mr Malama said it was shocking that while most Zambians were condemning tribal intonations in the country despite a diverse 72 tribes, there were people who were pushing the tribal tag on the governance of the country.
“Prince Simamba almost beat me up for merely trying to reason with him over his tribal remark right in the foyer of the office of Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda. I had gone to the Ministry of Finance to see the Secretary to the Treasury when I found Simamba and Mr Nkombo discussing some issues. He was condemning the naming of a university being constructed in Chinsali after Robert Makasa. . What annoyed me most was his tribal sentiment that Bembas had messed up the country and I advised that it was erroneous to make a blanket statement against a tribe,” Mr Mumba said.
He said the two exchanged bitter words but that he (Malama) restrained himself because he did not want to make him his enemy.
Mr Malama said the PF government under President Sata did not believe in tribe and that there were a lot of developmental programmes that were being undertaken across the country which Zambians were appreciating. He said Zambia would not eat or prosper on the basis of peddling tribal politics and advised that those who aspire for leadership must always leave above board and accept every tribe to be equal.
The two however reconciled after prince Simamba apologised for his remark.