LINDA NYONDO & VIOLET MENGO, Lusaka
GREEN Party president Peter Sinkamba has advised United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema to preach oneness so that the country can remain united.
â€œAs leaders, we should tone down on language issues. We can destroy the country by regionalising the languages,â€ he said.
Reacting to media reports that Mr Hichilema allegedly criticised Chieftainess Choongo of Monze for welcoming and speaking to Patriotic Front (PF)secretary general Davies Chama in Bemba, Mr Sinkamba said the chieftainess should not be criticised for speaking Bemba.
He said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that Zambians must embrace all local languages to promote unity and peace in the country.
PF Lusaka Province youth chairperson Kennedy Kamba said Mr Hichilema should apologise for allegedly uttering tribal remarks.
â€œIt is clear that Mr Hakainde is not a good leader because he has continued to advocate tribalism, a trait that any leader should not have,â€ Mr Kamba said.
He said President Lungu has appealed to all Zambians to remain united and love one another regardless of tribal inclination, but the UPND leader was allegedly working against this.
Mr Kamba said PF youths are saddened by the remarks by the UPND leader, and are challenging him to apologise.
He said the UPND has been a tribal party as it kicked out leaders from other tribes such as Sakwiba Sikota, Bob Sichinga and Patrick Chisanga, among others.
Zambians for Empowerment and Development president Fred Mtesa hopes it is not true that Mr Hichilema rebuked Chieftainess Choongo because Zambia is one big family.
â€œOur cultural heritage makes us one beautiful society. Our diversity is our strength; each tribe brings something that adds value to the Zambian touch of cultural heritage,â€ he said.
Dr Mtesa said most Zambians have intermarried and have accepted their ethnic diversity.
And Peopleâ€™s Party (PP) president Mike Mulongoti said he feels such differences must be resolved quietly because of their sensitive nature.
Mr Hichilema is alleged to have criticised Chieftainess Choongo for receiving Mr Chama during his tour of Southern Province and speaking to him in Bemba.
The UPND president is said to have made the complaint in a telephone conversation with Chief Hamusonde of Monze.
And PF vice chairperson for media and publicity Sunday Chanda said his party is not surprised by Mr Hichilemaâ€™s alleged hatred and contempt for the Bemba-speaking people, a tribal grouping to which both his national chairperson Mutale Nalumango and deputy president Geoffrey Mwamba belong.
â€œWe are not shocked because we understand that Mr Hichilemaâ€™s entry into politics was birthed by tribalism. To this day, he has failed to condemn the tribal political cradle on which his political career was birthed following the death of UPND founder Anderson Mazoka.
â€œWe are just concerned about who Mr Hichilema has been trying to fool by camouflaging his top party leadership with people whose tribe he abhors with such disdain,â€ Mr Chanda said in a statement.
But in a statement posted on his Facebook page, Mr Hichilema said the party has not encouraged any chief from Southern Province or any part of the country not to be visited by people from other ethnic groupings because they believe Zambia is one.
Mr Hichilema said it is Mr Chama who looks at citizens in terms of ethnicity.
â€œWhat Chama needs to know is that people from all ethnic groupings have homes and investment in Southern Province, while others are even village headmen and thatâ€™s how every other province is and must continue to be,â€ he said.
LINDA NYONDO & VIOLET MENGO, Lusaka