Political tribalism



ABOUT 47 years ago, then President Kaunda tendered his resignation after an acrimonious Central Committee meeting of his ruling United National Independence Party (UNIP).

At that meeting two alliances emerged. There was a Bemba/Tonga alliance and a Ngoni/Lozi alliance which competed for power.

The Tonga/Bemba alliance carried the day and won most of the seats, resulting in veteran politician Mwansa Kapwepwe being elected as Vice President. This was a position Easterner Reuben Kamanga had eyed. The rest as they say is history. Dr. Kaunda reportedly resigned, although nothing was put in writing. The perverse outcome was the declaration of the one party state, which ostensibly supported the one Zambia one Nation motto and gave legitimacy to tribal balancing.

It was in the search of enforced nationhood that Barotseland was equally drawn into the national equation without the appropriate settlement.

Nobody will ever know what would have come of Zambia if the early birth pangs of regional politics had been allowed to mature. If indeed the Barotse agreement would have been spelt out in clearer detail to avoid the ambiguity we are facing today.

The Movement for Multi Party Democracy was perhaps the only political organization that enjoyed absolute universal support, because it was born from a shared common vision.  The movement embraced the entire country with a common goal, because the cause was clear and the common enemy clearly identified. Regional origin did not matter, what mattered was the removal of the one party dictatorship.

This is not the case today. There is no common enemy, only one goal-power. 

Fortunately for the nation, History is obviously NOT repeating itself because the Tonga/ Bemba alliance of 1968 is now asunder. Each must find a working alliance with the remaining groups.

We are fortunate that we have the urban balancing population made up of a totally homogenous population that has little attachment or loyalty to regionalism. This group in Lusaka and the Copperbelt will create a new Zambia- a Zambia that will be based on merit.

This situation is not satisfactory but such is the nature of our politics. We are yet to mature to consider the message rather than the messenger.  Unless we recognize this reality there is a real danger that we might fragment and therefore injure our national unity unnecessarily.

It is against this background that such politically incorrect statements as those made by MMD Chairlady Ms. Chitika must be taken. It is uncomfortable but true that neither the Bemba group nor Tonga group on its own will dominate to the total exclusion of others.

It will be the Musonda Bandas, Misozi Kwaleyelas, Mulenga Zimba’s and indeed Lwenga Hakamangwe’s who will drive a tribeless Zambia into the next millennia. Our contribution lies in making this transition peaceful and as painless as possible.


2 thoughts on “Political tribalism

  1. Well written article – well done. Please do an analysis of the influence of social media on the same topic. It will be more educative to our seemingly majority of social media users. Thank you

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