Sunday, December 01, 2013

The hegemonic Bemba power project in PF
By Editor
Sun 20 Oct. 2013, 14:00 CAT

THE hegemonic Bemba power project within the Patriotic Front is certainly and definitely destined for failure. It simply won’t work. It is an exercise in futility that will leave those engaged in it totally discredited and politically incapacitated.

Zambians have seen such projects before. The politics of Simon Kapwepwe’s United Progressive Party were more of less inclined towards Bemba ‘nationalism’. It failed.

And for similar reasons, this hegemonic Bemba project that some elements within the Patriotic Front have embarked on will also fail. It will fail because the Bemba-speaking people have never and will not be tribalists. And non-Bemba speaking people who live in areas dominated by Bemba-speaking people can attest to this. One is likely to face more tribal discrimination in other parts of our country than they are likely to face in Bemba-speaking areas. Even those who live in urban areas and have Bemba speaking neighbours can also attest to their general lack of discrimination on account of tribe.

This hegemonic Bemba project in the Patriotic Front is also bound to fail because the leader and founder of this party doesn’t possess a tribal outlook. There are very few leaders in this country, other than Dr Kenneth Kaunda, who have developed more political and other leaders who do not belong to their tribe than Michael Sata has done. If one audits Michael’s political history, one will realise that most of his key political associates, confidantes and operatives were from non-Bemba speaking tribes of our country. We could put a list of what we are talking about, but we will not do so to avoid embarrassing anyone. If it wasn’t for Michael, where would Wynter Kabimba and Emmanuel Chenda be politically? These are non-Bemba people who have been brought up by Michael politically and otherwise. The list is endless. We are pointing out Wynter and Emmanuel because these are well-known cases. Even in business, Michael’s enterprises were not dominated by people from his tribe. How many of our businessmen and women can claim such a record? We have Zambian companies whose employees are predominantly from the tribe of the principal owner. This has never been the case with Michael.

Even when it comes to the formation of the Patriotic Front, look at the people Michael used and those he brought very close to himself. The majority of them are not from his tribe. Look at the composition of the leadership of the Patriotic Front which Michael himself has constructed! It cannot be said to be a party leadership of Bemba-speaking people; it’s got a truly national character and not a cosmetic one. We have seen some political parties like the UPND whose key leadership is predominantly Tonga speaking, with only a few cosmetic non-Tonga elements brought in as ‘make-up’.

One can go to all the ministries and other public institutions that Michael led and will find the same composition of people. Of course, some Bemba tribalists don’t see that. To them, Michael is their tribesman and as such, the political party he founded and leads is theirs. Michael doesn’t see things that way. If that was his outlook, the composition of the Patriotic Front leadership would be very different.

And this is why people like Wynter and Emmanuel are more comfortable with Michael and have been able to work with him as their mentor for more than 30 years. Wynter was one of the few people who were invited to discuss the formation of what is now the UPND. At that meeting, there were only Tonga-speaking people or those belonging to the Bantu Botatwe and those from North-Western Province. Most of those who were at that meeting are dead. But there is still Ben Kapita alive in addition to Wynter. When Old Ben was invited to attend that meeting, he was thought to be from North-Western Province. When the objectives for trying to form a political party were laid out, it was clearly stated that the purpose was to stop Bemba domination. At that point, Ben and Wynter realised they were in the wrong place and never went back to the second meeting. This was the agenda on which UPND was formed. Of course, later on there were some serious attempts at ‘make-up’. Some non-Tonga or Bantu Botatwe politicians were drafted in to give the party some character of regional or tribal diversity. It nearly worked.
The cosmetic had covered the face and blended in very well. But even this little was too much for the new leadership of the party that emerged later under Hakainde Hichilema. Tonga hegemony in the UPND was no longer a secret. It was stated very clearly and publicly that only a Tonga could lead the UPND. We all know what happened after that. The political fortunes of the UPND started to decline. And they were cleared out of all the urban areas of our country where they used to have some seats and remained only in Southern Province, with a few seats in Western and North-Western provinces. This is what tribalism has done to UPND. We have no doubt that the situation will be worse for the hegemonic Bemba project because it will not even have enough votes in the Bemba-speaking areas because the Bemba-speaking people don’t generally vote that way. Kapwepwe’s UPP lost in Bemba-speaking areas. It is surprising that some of the people who are today in the Patriotic Front worked with Kapwepwe and led him to his political demise don’t seem to have learnt the lesson. They misled Kapwepwe and today they think they can mislead Michael the same way.

The other reason why this hegemonic Bemba project will fail is because the great majority of the Zambian people hate the practice of tribalism. The overwhelming majority of our people don’t like tribalism.

And as we have stated before, tribalism is a blight on the human conscience. And we should never allow our country to play host to tribalism. Nor shall our voices be stifled if we see that any one of us is a victim to tribal discrimination.

Tribalism, in any form, must be consciously combated and not discreetly tolerated. We all know how stubbornly tribalism can cling to the mind and how deeply it can infect the human soul.

We must ensure that tribe becomes only a God-given gift - and a precious one for that matter because God gives us only good things - to each one of us and not an indelible mark or attribute that accords a special status to any. Tribalism pollutes the atmosphere of human relations and poisons the minds of the backward, the bigoted and the prejudiced.

And in saying all this, we are not in any way anti-Bemba. It is impossible for us to be anti-Bemba because the editor-in-chief and managing director of this newspaper is Bemba. His great grandfather, his father’s grandfather, his grandfather’s father, was chief Nkula. The position this newspaper has taken on this issue is simply a matter of principle. In the same way this newspaper has denounced Tonga and other tribalism, it is today denouncing the attempts to introduce Bemba tribalism in our politics and in the governance of our country.

Imagine what would become of our country if we were to wake up one day and find that these Bemba tribalists have taken over Michael’s party to impose their tribal hegemony on the rest of our country? For this reason, we make a clarion call to all our people to use their instincts and refuse to be driven into tribal politics by these corrupt and tribalistic elements. We also urge all Zambians of goodwill, regardless of their tribe, to rally behind Michael and ensure that his leadership triumphs over the narrow interests of these corrupt and tribalistic elements.

We shouldn’t cheat ourselves that these tribalists will disappear so easily. No, they won’t go away on their own. To defeat tribalism, a tenacious struggle has to be waged on all fronts. Look at the aggressive way they are trying to impose their agenda on the Patriotic Front! Of course, they are very manipulative. When they realised that their corrupt and tribal agenda had been exposed, they hired some desperate and opportunistic non-Bemba speaking politicians to start speaking for them, fronting for them. But the Zambian people know who they are. And no tribalist should be voted for in 2016, regardless of the political party they belong to. Let’s register them in our minds and when the time comes for elections, there should be a roll call of tribalists. Expose tribalists whenever and wherever they rear their ugly heads.

And with the full support of every one of us, Michael will be able to effectively deal with these corrupt and tribalistic elements. Yes, they are very manipulative but manipulators have never deserved anybody’s respect or been successful anywhere. Manipulators are like little sailboats that go with the wind and the waves. Manipulation is synonymous with opportunism. Manipulation doesn’t have substance; it doesn’t have roots. And as such, it survives on lies, bribery, calumny, deceit.

We are lucky that they are not so many of them. They are few. And because they are few, they try to make too much noise. In guerilla warfare, they say if you are few, you fight in the bananas. This is so because the leaves of bananas make so much noise and you start to sound as if you are so many. This is what these tribalists in the Patriotic Front have been trying to do in their attempt to hoodwink the Zambian people to believe they are a dominant force in the Patriotic Front. We are also lucky that the great majority of the Patriotic Front’s Bemba-speaking leaders and members, although they are not making much noise, are not part of this hegemonic project and are totally opposed to it.

It is therefore very clear that this hegemonic Bemba power project in the Patriotic Front is destined for failure as long as Michael is in charge of this party.

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