FRANK Bwalya says ABZ has found it difficult to congratulate UPND for winning in Katuba because of the party’s campaign on tribal lines.
Bwalya, who is Alliance for Better Zambia (ABZ) president, said voters were equally to blame for voting on tribal lines.
He said it was evil for a political party to campaign on tribal lines to gain political mileage, says
This was in reference to UPND’s tribal campaigns in Katuba for their candidate, Jonas Shakafuswa.
“It is wrong… It is evil to campaign on tribal lines. This is why as a party, we have found it difficult to congratulate UPND; we have just admitted defeat,” he said.
“So the issue of tribalism in politics will only end when the voters reject it. If, for instance, somebody is a good candidate and people should vote for them, the people should decide not to vote for that person if he anchors his campaign on tribalism in a faint way. In that manner, I think that those who engage in tribal politics will think twice.”
Bwalya said he was saddened that for now, the trend seemed to be working for certain people.
“For now, it seems to be working for people, to simply say to their tribesmen and women, ‘I am standing on the party of your tribe, vote for me, don’t vote for this other person’. So at the end of the day, I blame the voters, because they are the ones that can bring tribal-line voting to an end,” he said.
“Those who campaign on tribal lines are selfish, so asking them to stop won’t work; it’s the people that can make them stop by not voting for them.”
Bwalya said he was personally approached by some people, questioning him why he chose not to work with politicians of his own tribe.
“I have been confronted by people who have come to learn that my father was Tonga, that they can’t understand why I decided to work with MMD, Mike Mulongoti and Dr Fred Mutesa, who are not my people,” he said.
When challenged to name who those people were and which party they belong to, Bwalya said: “No, I don’t want to mention any names myself. Our party is too small to start fighting with certain people. We need time to grow.”
He noted that his answer to them was that he was a hybrid and ‘mixed cut’.
“I have told them that I am a hybrid and ‘mixed-cut’ and, therefore, I can’t tell Bembas to vote for me because I am Bemba only one side,” Bwalya said. “Neither can I tell Tongas to vote for me because I am Tonga, when on the other side I am not Tonga.”
He said if the people of Zambia believed in his leadership, time would come for them to vote for him.
Bwalya said it was sad that the issue of tribalism was rampant in Katuba, and had defined the outcome of the by-election in favour of the UPND.
“We saw these things on the ground. Some people were even telling us that this election is between HH and Fr Bwalya. It’s not HH saying it but we found some people saying so, on the ground in Katuba when they were campaigning,” said Bwalya. “But I would never say to such people, ‘No, my father was Tonga, therefore vote for our party as well’ because it would be wrong on my part.”
On Friday, Shakafuswa’s maiden speech in Parliament annoyed Speaker Dr Patrick Matibini after the former used tribal and unparliamentary terms.