Munali Constituency parliamentary hopeful, Niza Phiri, has charged that the results in the just ended Lubansenshi and Solwezi West by-elections are a clear indication of an internalised tribal mistrust in the country.
The Lubansenshi seat was won by the ruling PF’s George Mwamba, who polled 4,879, relegating the opposition UPND’s Patrick Mucheleka – who previously held the seat as an independent – into third place with 1,895 votes.
In Solwezi West, the UPND’s Teddy Kasonso resoundingly won the seat with 8,541, with the PF’s Martin Mbaya trailing in a distant second with 2,635 votes.
The two constituencies are in Northern and Northwestern provinces.
Commenting on the results in the two constituencies, Phiri wonders how one country, facing the same challenges, can have opposite results in two different regions. He points to tribalism as the logical explanation for the phenomenon.
“How can one country, facing the same challenges have such varying results? Why should there be such huge margins, opposite of each other in varying regions?” Phiri wondered. “After over 200 years of sharing this country, the deep mistrust between tribes still devides us.”
The youthful Phiri feels the Electoral Commission of Zambia is not doing enough to educate voters about the dangers of voting on tribal lines.
“It is the duty of the Electoral commission to educate voters about why they should cast their votes. the just ended By-Election shows that people are merely practising regional politics. In the same country, surely we should share similar sentiment about the state of affairs but why such variations?” Phiri said in a statement to Zambian Eye.
Phiri also wants the ECZ to show some bite and disqualify parties and candidates who engage in tribal campaigns.
“ECZ should create provisions to penalise political parties that campaign on tribal lines. Sentiment like “vote for your own” etc? I think candidates who issue such statements should be disqualified,” Phiri said.
“This type of attitude is very primitive and hinders development. If we continue down this path we are surely headed nowhere. People treat national issues like soccer, you support Arsenal or Chelsea through thick and thin… How many times have we heard statements like “tulemikolopa” or this party for life? This is the mentality ECZ should work at ridding the nation of. Because so far they are failing in their job. We cant continue down this path. The past by elections results are just shameful , and an indicator of the primitivity of our politics and governance systems.”