By Mike Mwansa

THE United Movement for Kola Bemba Kingdom says Bemba speaking people will not vote for President Edgar Lungu and the PF for referring to them as thieves.

These are remarks the Head of State made three years ago when he said that out of 10 thieves six are Bembas.

Boniface Besa Bwalya, one of the movement leaders, says the Bemba people are still hurt by the President’s purported joke.

“We have been wounded by the words ‘ba kabwalala’ (thieves) referring to Bembas which was said during an economic forum by the President,” Bwalya said.

President Edgar Lungu during an Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ)-organised gala dinner in Lusaka in December 2018 is quoted to have said out of 10 thieves, six were Bemba.

“The other day I was doing statistics and I came across one damning fact that out of 10 thieves, six will be Bemba. And I said ‘why’ but they said you have forgotten? There are so many Bembas. So, invariably, you’ll find that when you collect 10, six will be wrong ones,” President Lungu claimed.

Bwalya said the attributes were farfetched from the spirit of traditional cousinship which is practiced by people from Northern and Eastern provinces of Zambia.

He said the platform at which the President uttered the words was not suitable for cousinship as it also included an international audience.

“This was not ‘chimbuya’, especially that the President spoke on an economic forum knowing very well that in Zambia there are Bemba speaking people. You see, outside they know that in Zambia there are Bemba speaking people who are thieves,’’ Bwalya added. “This has disadvantaged our children because the outside countries know that Bemba speaking people are thieves. Our names have been destroyed by the tribal assignation by the Head of State. My children and my grandchildren through this tribal statement have lost job opportunities because would-be employers associate Bembas with thieving acts now. Lucky enough if I am employed, I may not be a free person definitely! I am not going to be free because everyone would see me as a thief.”

He has since warned information minister Dora Siliya to stop the continued tribal attack on Bembas.

“We are warning even this one Dora Siliya who has started this same tribal remark of referring to Bemba speaking people as thieves. How can you allow somebody to continuously issue dividing statements?” Bwalya asked.

According to the documents availed by Bwalya to The Mast dated July 13, 2020, the movement sought an audience with the Head of State over the issue in the last three years but it has been fruitless.

“The office of the Attorney General is aware about this issue. And they wrote to us referring our issue to the Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs which only promised to get back to us,” Bwalya said.

He said in February 2020, the movement tried to seek police permit to demonstrate on the remarks, but its leaders ended up being detained for questioning at Lusaka division headquarters.

“We have been trying to seek an audience with the President over this issue and it has taken three years and four months now,” complained Bwalya. – The Mast


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