Chishimba Kambwili says he has realised that his remarks against the people of Southern Province had potential to divide Zambians on regional and tribal lines.
And Kambwili, the Roan PF member of parliament, says he feels relieved now that he has been forgiven by the Southern Province Royal Foundation.
Meanwhile, the Southern Province Royal Foundation says Kambwili is “a free son of the soil” who should be free to do any political business in the province.
In January 2016 when he was serving as information minister and chief government spokesperson under President Edgar Lungu’s government, Kambwili, who is now expelled from the ruling PF, demeaned southerners on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview, saying even if Jesus stood for elections in Southern Province, Tongas would vote against Him based on tribe.
Recently, the outspoken Kambwili told Talk Blog Radio that he is ‘unreservedly apologising’ for his remarks, which he alleges were meant to discourage tribal voting.
Speaking after he held a two-hour meeting with chiefs Moonze, Chona, Chikanta and Hamusonde at chief Moonze’s palace in Monze on Wednesday, Kambwili profoundly thanked the traditional leaders for accepting his formal apology.
He said his formal apology to the people of Southern Province was the beginning of national unity in Zambia.
“I want to sincerely thank you for accepting my apology. I came here to basically apologise to the Tonga-speaking, the people of Southern Province and the Zambians for the unfortunate statement that I made on ZNBC to the effect even if Jesus Christ were to come, the people of Southern Province would vote for a fellow Tonga. This I have reflected and I want to say that I have withdrawn the statement and unreservedly apologised to the people of Southern Province. My sentiments had the potential to divide the country on regional and tribal lines and I think it is important that when you err and you realised that you’ve erred, it is important to say sorry,” Kambwili admitted.
“My first apology was through a radio interview but I felt [that] it was important that I come to the custodians of the people of Southern Province who are the chiefs so that I can physically apologise to them. I’m glad that they have forgiven me unreservedly and I hope and trust that this is the beginning of national unity in our country because if we don’t foster national unity, then this country will not develop.”
He also revealed that he felt relieved that he could now freely mingle with the people of Southern Province.
“When I was growing up, I was taught that there are three magic words; please, excuse me and thank you. I have decided today to say sorry to the royal highnesses and the people of Southern Province and I feel relieved that I can freely come to Southern Province and mingle with the people of Southern Province and the chiefs,” said Kambwili.
“I must say that the reception I have received from their royal highnesses and just in town when we arrived, I feel that for me to give an example of national unity it is important, I commit myself tomorrow (today) to go and visit my incarcerated brother, Hakainde Hichilema at Mukobeko Prison. Let me thank all the people of Zambia and the people of Southern Province for accepting my apology.”
Kambwili was accompanied by former Chimwemwe PF member of parliament Mwenya Musenge, Charles Kabwita (former Chimwemwe ward PF councillor) and former Kabushi PF member of parliament Lombani Msichili. Senior chief Moonze said he had, in his life time, never witnessed the humility Kambwili exhibited by resorting to seek forgiveness.
“I have truly forgiven Kambwili. But since Tongas are many and if there is any among them who has not forgiven him, I say it’s up to that person! Otherwise, Kambwili is forgiven and welcome. All we want to pursue in this country is peace and unity and whatever Kambwili said is no longer consequential – he is forgiven!” said senior chief Moonze.
Chief Hamusonde said: “Kambwili must be rated as a great man in the sense that there are very few people in Zambia who see their mistakes and come back to apologise to the aggrieved person. He is the first man! We have forgiven you wholeheartedly and we didn’t want anything apart from forgiveness.”
And chief Chona noted that Kambwili’s “bravery” was impressive.
“We had gone to the extent of telling the President to tell Kambwili to apologise to us. But now that he has come, we have accepted his apology. He is a brave man, he is a fighter,” said chief Chona.
Meanwhile, Southern Province Royal Foundation chairperson chief Chikanta stressed that Kambwili was entirely forgiven.
“When Kambwili is apologising, he is not only apologising to those Tongas who are dwelling in Southern Province right now but to all the Tongas throughout the country. We have unreservedly forgiven Kambwili and me being chairperson of the Southern Province Royal Foundation, I’m speaking o behalf on all the chiefs in Southern Province. We have given a resounding acceptance to his apology and we are saying he is a free son of the soil to go anywhere in Southern Province to talk about his programmes, if he has any,” said chief Chikanta.