Attack on HH, not an act of Bemba tribalism

Lucky Mulusa

Lucky Mulusa

By Lucky Mulusa

Media reports concerning the attack on the President of UPND, Mr. HakaindeHichilema and his entourage while on his tour in Kasama undoubtedly makes sad reading.

For obvious and clear reasons, I refuse to believe that the attack on Hichlema popularly known as HH is an act of tribalism by Bembas. I therefore, would like to urge all those who wish to comment on this barbaric incidence to be objective, analytical and level headed and to do your best to steer away from issues of tribe and ethnicity (which are not at play here) and tackle the real drivers and reasons behind the escalating political violence in our nation.

Allowing misplaced fanning of tribal and ethnic politics will polarise the nation unnecessarily. Rwanda and Burundi and more recently, Kenya, should be good reminders of what can happen to a nation divided on tribal or ethnic lines. It is important to point out that certain individuals have been behind incidences of violence in our country. At the core of this issue is lack of understanding of what politics is and what its role in national development is supposed to be.

Politics is simply supposed to be used by nations to make collective decisions. It is important to remind ourselves of historical facts that disqualify the notion that this incidence is an act of Bemba tribalism. If it were, then how come Mazoka was allowed to campaign in Northern and Luapula provinces without any problems? How come Nervous Mumba and Elias Chipimo get blocked from practicing politics in Muchinga and Northern Provinces where they come from?

How come Father Bwalya had chibuku poured over him on the Copperbelt? We must not forget that the same individuals have been the drivers behind the violence in Livingston, Msanzala, Chipata and more recently, Mkaika. If we attach tribe to this issue, we will miss the point. Violence has also occurred in Chawama, Matero (BIGOCA), Mufumbwe and many other places.

There also exists the treaded “Mapatizya formula”. First president Kenneth Kaunda did very well to unite us under the theme, “One Zambia, One Nation” to an extent of almost getting rid of the potential risk of this nation to be divided on tribal lines. Identity can be a complicated matter. In Zambia, we have seventy three tribes (or dialects) and according to census  (2006), “Violence is promoted by the cultivation of a sense of inevitability about some allegedly unique – often – belligerent – identity that we are supposed to have and which apparently makes extensive demands on us.”

He concludes that, “The imposition of an allegedly unique identity is often a crucial component of the “martial art” of fomenting sectarian confrontation”. Census (2006), warns that “Identity can also kill – and kill with abandon. A strong – and exclusive – sense of belonging to one group can in many cases carry with it the perception of distance and divergence from other groups.”

During ethnic cleansing even babies are not spared. This is killing with a sense of abandon and distance which should not be encouraged in humanity. It is important that we remind ourselves of what politics is so that we understand how to practice it. In the Sixth Edition of Comparative Government and Politics by Hague and Harrop, (2004), politics is defined as the “Activity by which groups reach binding collective decisions through attempting to reconcile differences among their members.”

The authors give four significant points in the definition. Three of them are, that: 1. Politics is a collective activity, involving people who accept a common membership or at least acknowledge a shared fate. As a nation, PF does not practice politics as a national collective activity; 2. Politics presumes an initial diversity of views, about goals or means or both. “Were we in agreement all the time, there would be no politics.”

PF presumes no initial diversity of views. Theirs is a total rejection of this disposition. The paradox is that there is no homogeneity of views in PF itself. The fact that earlier, Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba popularly known as GBM, and more recently Given Lubinda, and now Winter Kabimba, just as examples, can stand up and say that no one will hound each one of them out of PF is indicative of the existence of divergence of views; and 3. The third point is that politics involves reconciling such differences through discussion and persuasion.

Communication is therefore said to be central to politics. The PF believes in corrupting and intimidating members of other political parties into serving its interests. Where it fails violence is not too far to away; Just to stress the point, politics is said to be the activity by which differing interests within a given unit of rule (in this case the nation) are conciliated by giving them a share in power in proportion to their importance and to the welfare and survival of their community.

Others give idealistic definitions, but one thing they agree upon is that politics involves (if not exclusively) negotiation, bargaining, and compromise. And the venue for such discussions is government. Under the PF, we do not have a government that serves the purpose of ensuring that politics plays the positive role it should be. What is important to stress here are the words of Laver (1983, p.1), “Pure conflict is war and, “Pure cooperation is true love” and politics is a mixture of both.

According to IDEA and UN literature on Democracy Education, Democratic societies are expected to be politically tolerant. This means that while the majority of the people rule in a democracy, the rights of the minority (opposition) must be protected. People who are not in power must be allowed to organize and speak out. Minorities are sometimes referred to as the opposition because they may have ideas which are different from the majority. Individual citizens must also learn to be tolerant of each other.

A democratic society is often composed of people from different cultures, racial, religious and ethnic groups who have viewpoints different from the majority of the population. A democratic society is enriched by diversity. If the majority deny rights to and destroy their opposition, then they also destroy democracy. One goal of democracy is to make the best possible decision for the society.

To achieve this, respect for all people and their points of view is needed. Decisions are more likely to be accepted, even by those who oppose them, if all citizens have been allowed to discuss debate and question them. One day, the right people will ascend to the throne and because that day is very near, we will all be witness to the practice of constructive rather than destructive politics.

Brethren stay where you are – for true and constructive politics is on the horizon. As for PF do us a favour and strike a delicate balance between war and true love. There is too much war from your side. Allow every person free access to anybody anywhere in the country.

Lucky Mulusa, MP. Solwezi Central September, 2013.