Ethnic tension in Zambia
Lusaka – Zambia’s peace is being threatened by attempts to str up ethnic conflict by a group calling itself “Tongas Under Oath”, who are reportedly against what they feel is immense Bemba influence in national affairs.
The Tonga and Bemba are among the largest of Zambia’s 73 ethnic groups. The threat from Tongas Under Oath comes a few months after a group of Barotse threatened to secede from the unitary Republic of Zambia. The group is believed to be based in Southern Zambia and has reportedly threatened to kill Bembas over President Michael Sata’s re-alignment of some of districts in the area as part of his decentralisation programme.
The government resolved to re-align Chirundu, a town on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border, and Ithezhi Thezhi, so that they are no longer part of Southern Province.
The group recently wrote to President Sata and the chief of police Inspector-General Stella Libongani, and Home Affairs Minister Edgar Lungu threatening action against Bembas.
The group claims to have killed two adults and a child and poisoned seven others, all Bembas.
The police believe the opposition United party for National Development (UPND) is somehow involved with the group and recently raided its headquarters in search of seditious materials. President Sata warned that the state’s response to any such threats would be robust.
“I love Tongas,” Sata added. “We have Tongas married to people from other tribes and we have other tribes married to Tongas. They are peaceful and innocent people.”