Editor's Comment

Yes, tribalism must be criminalised

THE unanimous adoption of the motion to enforce laws which criminalise hate speech, tribalism and discrimination by Parliament is not only commendable and progressive, but long overdue.
This is because at the rate we are going, if hate speech and tribalism are not curtailed, the country will be plunged into chaos.
While our founding fathers did a commendable job in uniting the country under the motto, ‘One Zambia One Nation’ it is sad that some disgruntled individuals are bent on erasing their gains.
Dr Kaunda and others who pioneered the ideology of ‘One Zambia One Nation’ will attest that uniting a country is not an easy task.
After independence and as a way of uniting Zambians, Dr Kaunda devised a deliberate strategy to post people to work in other areas other than where they originated from.
That’s how come we have Lozis working or settled in the northern part of the country. Similarly we have Tongas in Eastern Province, Bembas in Southern Province, Nsengas in Western Province and so forth.
As a result of this strategy, today than ever before we have a lot of intermarriages among the various tribes.
The idea by our forefathers was to erase the tribal divide and to create one strong and united country.
While a good foundation was laid by our forefathers, it is disheartening that some disgruntled individuals with small minds want to destroy this legacy by planting seeds of hate and tribalism.
Some people have exhibited high dangerous levels of carelessness in their speech and conduct, putting the future of the country at risk.
We would have thought that politicians as leaders would conduct themselves exemplarily in a manner that promotes good values and unity among the people.
Unfortunately they are the worst culprits when it comes to hate speech and tribalism as witnessed by the fights among cadres.
It is sad that some politicians have sunk so low to ride on archaic strategies of divide and rule by promoting geopolitics.
This is now manifesting in the voting patterns where people vote for tribe not the candidate.
It is disheartening that almost 55 years after independence, we are still grappling with tribalism and hate speech instead of looking at how we are going to adapt to new technological developments to better our country for future generations.
It is a known fact that tribalism and hate speech has potential to tear down a country and erase all its achievements as witnessed in the Rwanda genocide.
And certainly this is not what we want for our country. We have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to be where we are today.
We cannot afford to leave any room for individuals with small minds, who cannot see beyond their narrow and selfish interests to endanger the posterity of this country.
This is why we commend our law makers for speaking with one voice on the need to enforce laws that criminalise hate speech, tribalism and discrimination.
As rightly noted by Mazabuka Central Member of Parliament (MP) Gary Nkombo (UPND), who moved the motion, tribalism weakens and destroys communities, sows seeds of hatred, distrust and also sets a stage for genocide.
Going by the devastating effects of hate speech and tribalism on a country, those that perpetrate it are heartless criminals who should be dealt with as such.
It is therefore inevitable to have a legal framework that will enable Government to hold perpetrators of violence accountable for their actions.
Enforcement of the law will not only ensure that those perpetrating hate speech and tribalism are punished but used as an example to deter would-be offenders.
And as rightly observed by Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo , political parties should not only pay lip service to the issue of tribalism but be seen to act.
Indeed, politicians, as the major perpetrators of hate speech and tribalism, need to desist from mocking the Zambian people by saying one thing and doing the other.
Our politicians spoke well and so passionately in moving and supporting the adopted motion in parliament. We expect the same level of energy and zeal in ensuring implementation of the motion.
And needless to say, there is need to expedite the process of enacting the law to ensure that criminals bent on plunging this country into turmoil are dealt with accordingly before they fulfil their evil intentions.

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