Church condemns hate speech

THE Church is deeply concerned with the continued tribal sentiments and hate speech being propagated by politicians and some sections of the media, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) has said.

EFZ executive director Pukuta Mwanza said as Zambia was going for the general elections next year, it was important that vices such as tribalism, and regionalism and hate speech should not be tolerated to be part of the country’s political discourse.

Rev Mwanza said hate speech, tribalism and regionalism could become violently explosive next year if the vices were not uprooted from the country, which had known nothing but peace and unity since independence.

He advised that President Edgar Lungu should extend the olive branch to the opposition political parties so that they could meet and dialogue because that was the only means of easing the tension that seemed to have gripped the country because of careless tribal and offensive statements.

He told the Daily Nation that the Press should at all times avoid promoting divisive and hate speeches because such acts had the potential to divide the country and ruin the peace and unity the country was admired for.

Rev Mwanza stated that the that tribally inclined talk was largely being perpetrated by some sections of the media which he said seemed to be pushing some known agenda and advised that such media houses should tone down in their hate speech in the interest of peace and unity.

He said the continued acrimonious relationship between the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and some opposition political parties could easily compromise the electoral process in the 2016 general elections.

“There are too many heterogeneous tribes in Zambia as a result of the intermarriages and we cannot continue to be enemies against ourselves. Hate speeches, tribalism and regionalism should not have any room in Zambia because we are one people despite our diversity. We are disappointed as a church that there is still a heavy inclination of tribalism and regionalism in the country.

These vices if not uprooted can easily degenerate into civil strife or violent divisions in the country and we must make sure we guard against such.

The media unfortunately has been deliberately been fomenting conflict among regions instead of promoting amicable means of resolving the perceived regional differences,” Rev Mwanza said.

He said the church, political parties and other interest groups should be preaching peace, love and reconciliation and that those who had offended other tribes should be humble and ask for forgiveness instead of choosing the path of acrimony.

Rev Mwanza said it was important for the country to reconcile and heal from its differences if Zambia had to have peaceful and violence-free general elections.

He said no single tribe in the country was superior over the other and that Zambians had lived together as equal citizens with equal opportunities for the last 50 years, which had made the country a shining example of a politically stable country.

“There is too much hate speech among our political leaders and we are going for a general election next year. If we are not going to unite now and forgive each other of our transgressions, the electoral process may be compromised. If we do not manage our intra-tribal differences now, there is a danger that some sections of the country may not be allowed to campaign in other regions where they would be deemed foreign and this is not good for our democracy and unity,” Rev Mwanza said.