The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) strongly condemns the recent tribal remarks attributed to two Cabinet Ministers, firstly by the Minister of Finance Mr. Alexander Chikwanda encouraging the people of Chipata to vote for their tribesmen in the forthcoming Presidential and General Elections and secondly by the Minister of Information, Mr. Chishimba Kambwili, disparaging voters in the Southern Province on the basis that they are unlikely to vote for the ruling party in the upcoming general elections due to their tribal inclination. These remarks, coming as they did, from very senior Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament, are not only misplaced but they are extremely unfortunate in a country that is democratic and which is home to numerous tribal groupings forming one sovereign unitary state.
LAZ wishes to remind the Nation that Article 23 in the Bill of Rights of the current Constitution protects all Zambian citizens from discrimination on the basis of tribe. Furthermore the preamble of the newly enacted Constitution of Zambia Amendment Act No.2 of 2016, which the two Honourable Ministers were instrumental in enacting, recognises the equality of citizens in the new preamble that reads as follows:
“WE; THE PEOPLE OF ZAMBIA: ACKNOWLEDGE the supremacy of God Almighty; DECLARE the Republic a Christian Nation while upholding a person’s right to freedom of conscience, belief or religion; UPHOLD the human rights and fundamental freedoms of every person; COMMIT ourselves to upholding the principles of democracy and good governance; RESOLVE to ensure that our values relating to family, morality, patriotism and justice are maintained and all functions of the State are performed in our common interests; CONFIRM the equal worth of women and men and their right to freely participate in, determine and build a sustainable political, legal, economic and social order; RECOGNISE AND UPHOLD the multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural character of our Nation and our right to
manage our affairs and resources, sustainably in a developed system of governance; RESOLVE that Zambia shall remain a unitary, multi-party and democratic sovereign State;
RECOGNISE AND HONOUR the freedom fighters who fought for the independence of or Nation in order to achieve liberty, justice and unity for the people of Zambia; AND DIRECT that all State organs and State institutions abide by and respect our sovereign will”
(Highlighted for emphasis)
On numerous occasions LAZ has advised all stakeholders in the governance of our beloved nation, to eschew all manner of ill talk and hate speech, which are indicative of tribalism, on the ground that tribalism has no place in the political discourse of this country. The rights and dignity of all Zambian citizens must be maintained and respected, particularly by the Government whose functionaries and officials are sworn to the constitutional duty of protecting all citizens of the Republic regardless of their political persuasion or tribal origins. Tribalism can only sow seeds of hatred and violence that are at odds not only with the Christian ethos of the country but also with the need to recognise basic human dignity.
LAZ finds itself duty bound to offer a timely reminder, not only to the two Ministers responsible for these unfortunate remarks, but also to all Zambians, of the earnest plea made by His Excellency the Republican President Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, on the occasion of officiating at the Human Rights Day on 10 December 2015, when he called on Zambians from all walks of life to join in the fight against tribalism, regionalism and their attendant off shoot of hate speech, which have been given an undesirable prominence by social media in the country. Our reminder is also to all Political players that as we head towards the tripartite elections we should at all times desist from championing any agenda based on region or tribe.
If indeed the Government is serious about constitutionalism, the rule of law and the respect for human rights and human dignity, then all its leaders must be seen to act accordingly for the benefit of all Zambians. We urge the ruling Patriotic Front government to desist from making divisive tribal remarks, and indeed to be patriotic, by leading the way in averting ethnic tensions that are beginning to show in our country that is known as a beacon of peace in the whole of Africa.
PRESIDENT – LAZ
12th Januray 2016