Africa Should Focus on Unity, Says Former President Banda

The former President of Zambia Rupiah Banda has sharply criticized political leaders in Africa who use tribalism to sow divisions.

Banda, who was speaking this week at the University of Ghana, says he regrets the flawed conception under which some African leaders view democracy as a way to promote their tribes at the expense of others and use political power to disrupt unity.

The former Zambian head of State says the struggle for unity and sovereignty over tribalism, separatism and zoning, therefore, remains one of the most pressing and challenging goals facing the African continent.

During the lecture, President Banda told the packed audience that in order to attain peace and prosperity and move forward, African countries needed to explore the issues of strong institutions, socially-focussed development and unity.

Lecturing on the topic Democracy and Good Governance in Africa, President Banda, who is President-in-Residence at the Boston University under the African Presidential Centre, said it was difficult for a nation to succeed without a meritocracy. This is a system that guarantees that the best, brightest, and hardest-working citizens get elevated as opposed to only those from the village, province or tribe of a given political leader.

And, commenting on Zambia, the former president said the issue of unity still needed to be addressed by the country’s current and future leadership, and that this could be achieved through consensus-building and carefully-managed consultations among not only traditional leadership but moderate members of other political parties.

President Banda warned that for leaders to achieve their goals, they could not afford to be dishonest, adding: “We cannot play games with people’s expectations and hope to survive their disappointment.”

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