Zambia’s ethnic worries

Great Scott, it's a white face!
Great Scott, it’s a white face! Guy Scott with President Sata (left)

Zambia recently woke up to a story in state-owned media that a group calling itself Tongas Under Oath had killed two people belonging to President Michael Sata’s ethnic group, and was now in the process of removing settlers from the ethnically Tonga Southern Province. However, the story did not wash with the citizens who simply viewed it as an attempt by the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) government to clamp down on the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND).

Zambia’s third largest opposition party is led by Hakainde Hichilema, a Tonga who has been very critical of the Sata government. And as is often the case in Zambian politics, Hichilema is the latest in a line of fearless opposition leaders whose increasing popular support is likely to result in electoral success.

Prior to the release of the letter allegedly written by the Tongas Under Oath group, Hichilema was arrested and charged after he claimed that the PF government was planning to send youths to Sudan to train as militias. A few days later, the opposition’s headquarters in the capital, Lusaka, were searched by the police looking for seditious materials.

They did not find any but a few days later a far more sinister letter about an assasination plot was sent to President Sata with a date stamp from Mazabuka, a town in Southern Province.

No one was ever arrested in the Tongas Under Oath terror plot however, since President Sata himself admitted that the supposedly incriminating letter was not authored in the Southern Province, but in Lusaka.

Despite Zambia’s obvious ethnic struggles, the white British Zambian Vice-President Guy Scott said recently in an unusually frank interview: “The South Africans are very backward in terms of historical development. I hate South Africans… actually they’ve been the cause of so much trouble in this part of the world.”

The comments ruffled feathers on social media and appeared to threaten relations between the former liberation struggle allies.

During the interview in Lusaka, Scott mocked South Africa’s membership of the Brics developing economies, compared President Jacob Zuma with FW de Klerk and opined: “I have a suspicion the blacks model themselves on the whites now that they’re in power. ‘Don’t you know who we are, man?'”

He also defended the Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, and spoke out against Zuma’s attempts to mediate in that country on behalf of the Southern African Development Community.

Recalling a meeting between Mugabe and the Zambian president, Michael Sata, Scott said, without irony: “Michael the other day was saying, ‘You have to get this thing sorted out among yourself, you don’t want to go to SADC – it’s a new kind of colonialism’.”

The Daily Maverick’s Simon Allison quickly came to Scott’s rescue and tried to defend his strange comments. – ISN/ The Guardian