News / Africa

    Zambia President Lungu Warns Against Tribalism

    FILE - Zambian President Edgar Lungu speaks before attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, Sept. 29, 2015.
    FILE - Zambian President Edgar Lungu speaks before attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, Sept. 29, 2015.
    Peter Clottey

    Zambia’s president, Edgar Lungu, has directed members of the governing Patriotic Front Party (PF) to avoid commenting on issues of tribalism.
    His comments were made after Information Minister Chishimba Kambwili was quoted as saying people in some parts of Zambia would not vote for Jesus even if he were to compete against somebody that they’ve been voting for during elections.

    His remarks were made during a program on the state broadcaster, Zambia Broadcasting Cooperation. Kambwili’s comments drew sharp reaction from a section of the population that accused him of fanning tribalism and regionalism ahead of this year’s general election.

    Issues of tribalism and regionalism emerged in the run up to the presidential by-election following the death of President Michael Sata. Civil society groups say some political parties thrive on tribalism and regionalism as a divide and conquer tactic to canvass for votes as part of their campaign strategy.

    Frank Bwalya, a Catholic priest who is deputy spokesman for the PF, contends that voting patterns in last year’s presidential vote showed deep-seated regional and tribal sentiments. He adds that there appears to be an increased sensitivity of tribalism and regionalism ahead of this year’s polls. Bwalya however said the president’s call does not mean the ruling PF is fanning tribalism.

    “People react sharply to anything where even just even the term tribalism is mentioned, and of late this has heightened in the country,” he said.

    “The president is not saying our members as a ruling party have been engaging in tribalism or issuing tribal statements. Not at all, but that they should stop talking about tribalism…The president is putting his foot down not only to members of the governing party, in terms of urging them not to make any comment on tribalism. But also, for all Zambians to realize that this is a very unproductive undertaking. And with him promoting one Zambia, one nation that everyone should come on board and promote what is common about our people.”

    Opposition groups have questioned the timing of the president’s directive. They said he served as a Cabinet minister as well as president and is fully aware of the situation in the country. They argue that his directive is a public relations exercise merely to win votes in the runup to the election.

    “The president has been very clear, categorical about his position against tribalism in our country and he has continued to call upon all Zambians to desist to engage in anything or making any statements that would be divisive that would be understood as tribal,” said Bwalya.

    “He thinks it’s the right time to send a strong warning to PF members to ensure that they don’t comment on tribalism. Because our members are being accused of accusing other people of tribalism even when what they say is not necessarily accusing other people of tribalism, but simply condemning tribalism because it is a vice that should be condemned.”

    Civil society groups warn that if not quickly resolved, the use of tribalism and regionalism could undermine the country’s social unity fabric. Bwalya says some Zambians appear to be unwilling to confront tribalism because of political benefits.

    “As a party, we have no problem talking about tribalism, nevertheless the president has directed that we should not because it is generating very unhealthy, and in many cases very heated debate,” he said.

    “We have never counted on tribalism as a mechanism or system to win elections and we have been in the forefront condemning it, and urging all Zambians to condemn it. Other civil society organizations for other reasons best known to themselves have aligned themselves and fashioned their messages in a manner that clearly show that they have no problem with tribalism.”



    You May Like

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    This forum has been closed.
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora