Letters to the editor

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 08:11:35 +0000

Paying a fair price

Dear Editor,

Days of cheap Nshima have come to an end. Millers have now met their match in angry farmers represented by the Zambia National Farmers Union which is demanding for a fair return on their work.

For too long millers have been blackmailing Government into subsidizing maize on the pretext that the staple food was a political dynamite which the State would not wish to destabilize. The result was that Government always set a price for maize which invariably disadvantaged farmers.

This time round farmers are hitting back by holding back their maize until a fair price is paid to them. For too long consumers on the line of rail and in urban centers have used their political muscle to blackmail Government into low maize meal prices without considering the cost at which the farmers were producing.

In all fairness the producers must be given an opportunity to secure a fair price instead of technocrats dictating the price on political consideration.

It is shocking that some consumer organizations are complaining about a K5 to K10 increase in the price of maizemeal, when their members are quite happy and willing to pay huge amounts of money for talk time. What is more essential, talk time or maize meal?

Henceforth it is important that the price of maize must be the result of consultation between the producers and consumers in order to arrive at an equitable reward for those who toil and labour in the field. It is not fair to reward consumers at the expense of producers.

The entire agriculture pricing system must be reviewed to create a level playing field where farmers will also feel appreciated than remain in the doldrums of prices dictated by policy makers and  those who favour consumers. Jordan Mwelwa.

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Bane of tribalism exposed

Dear Editor,

 I would like to respond to what president Edgar Lungu is reported to have said during his recent state visit to Rwanda concerning his desire to eventually criminalize hate speech and also work towards introducing national identity cards that will not bear a person’s tribe in order to end tribalism in this country.

Personally, while I appreciate the president’s stand against tribalism which may be understandable from his point of view I would politely differ with him over his idea to introduce national registration cards or passports that do not show ones’s tribe.Why am I saying so?

One’s tribe is one’s cultural flagship and no person on the face of the earth can claim to have no tribe for as long as he is born in a certain ethnic group, regional area and country. Not only that the physical features, body marks, accent, tone, colour, character and behaviour of a person will give away his tribal identity.

Take for example a person from Rwanda he will be known by his slender, tall and barrel-shaped structure, Congolese like their counterparts from Ghana will be known by the shape of their heads.

This goes for other peoples in Africa and hence no matter how much a person may want to hide their tribal identity for various reasons reality will catch up with them at a later time.

Therefore it is foolhardy to think by introducing national identity documents that do not show one’s tribe can help to end tribalism.

Such thinking is misplaced and does not address the deep rooted feelings people have for their particular ethnic languages and culture. Tribalism is actually heart-deep for many people and as I said it is what makes one person to be different from the other but also gives them their cultural pride.

Coming to the Rwanda genocide which president Lungu thinks was the result of people carrying their tribal tags is non of that as the whole thing was one tribe feeling  marginalised and not enjoying the same privileges as the others.

It is a fact that before the genocide which was fueled by media bias that the Hutus who are the majority in that country felt underprivileged and not enjoying government benefits like their Tutsi counterparts.

For many years the Tutsis dominated the government system and got the best out of the whole thing. This was what was at stake in that country and not because the people carried their tribal identity!

Secondly our president should be made to know that it is not the colonialists who brought about tribalism in Africa. This is not true and it panders to simple nationalism of those people who want to blame everything including their own failures on the white people.

In fact before the first white man stepped foot on the shores of Africa people on the continent  already lived in ethnic and tribal clusters which the colonialists used to their advantage to divide-and-rule over the natives.

What we need to encourage in this country is people being proud of their tribal belonging without demeaning those who belong  to other tribes. All we need is respect for each other, appreciate other cultures and learn to live in harmony. This has nothing to do on whether we reflect the tribe of a person on the national identity card or passport. Full stop. Truly speaking a tribeless nation would be be a useless one, so to speak.

The first republican president Kenneth Kaunda introduced his One-Zambia One Nation theme for the purpose of uniting people in this country across tribal lines even while their tribal tags showed on their various documentations.

We have had no problem in Zambia and people have married across tribe and race up to this time. It is unthinkable and it will never happen that one day Zambia will have a genocide like what happened in Rwanda. Of course regional and tribal voting patterns in elections will continue to be there for ass long as power-hungry self-interest politicians rule the roost in this country.

Further to Kaunda’s wise leadership he balanced tribes in his government and spread development to all areas of the country which our later politicians have failed to do.

Through tribal balancing and equitable sharing of the national cake when it comes to development made Zambians to respect him and to rally behind his leadership.This is not the case now where we have some political opportunists and vultures marginalising other tribes and regions.

Lastly, I would like to give a timely advice to president Lungu that he should  find a way of winning back the confidence of all Zambians to his leadership through an unfair distribution of development, wealth of the country and also get other tribes in key positions of his government. Let him look at his cabinet, civil service, security services and diplomatic missions and other departments to see how tribes from all regions fit in and if at all there is fairness in it.

Only that will end hostile tribalism and regionalism in Zambia Simply striking off tribal tags from the national identification registration cards and passports will not help in any way as he thinks.

Only people who don’t belong to any tribe in Zambia but have faked their nationality need to feel uncomfortable with the present form of identification otherwise people should feel proud of their tribes.

 Rev. Alfred Sayila.

 President, Federal

Democratic Party

 

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