In a statement to mark Heroes and Unity days which fell yesterday and today respectively, Hichilema stated that Zambia today faced the challenges of regionalism and tribalism, which brought “nothing but division and exclusion”.
“Every citizen has the right to take pride in their heritage and customs as long as it does not trample on other citizens’ rights or spread intolerance. Nobody is superior or more worthy than the next person, we are all equal, whether a Luchazi from North Western Province, Bwile from Luapula, Kunda from Eastern Province or a Zambian of Indian descent. Our different backgrounds should be seen as a strength not a weakness,” Hichilema stated.
He recalled that the first cabinet of Zambia consisted people of diverse backgrounds.
“We owe our Founding fathers a debt of gratitude for the way they formed a government of all the talents drawn from the different provinces. The first cabinet of ministers consisted also of a white Zambian, Mr Jack Skinner and a mixed race Zambian, Mr Aaron Milner. Subsequent governments also drew from the Zambian pool of talent that saw people like Dipak Patel, Dev Babar and Guy Scott in leadership positions. This is testament to what good can occur when we are united,” Hichilema stated.
He further stated that almost all religions had a common golden rule that taught people to treat others “as we would like to be treated”.
“Just last month thousands of Zambian Muslims celebrated Eid al Fitr and in October our Hindu brothers and sisters will be celebrating Diwali. This ethic of reciprocity should help us to jealously guard the peace that has reigned in Zambia since independence. We should not take this for granted by succumbing to hate on grounds of others’ tribe, colour or creed. There is hope in the promise of tolerance, love, harmony and the peace dividend has been a definite benefit to all of us. Especially when we see how some of our fellow African countries have been devastated by the ravages of hatred,” stated Hichilema.
“Like our founding fathers and mothers, let us be heroes – today’s willing heroes who are committed to good governance, uphold the rule of law, dutiful in ending all forms of corruption and have compassion for the plight of the less privileged among us. Together let us work towards building a society that is grounded on love, mutual respect and celebrates the unity in our diversity. Above all, like true patriots let us be faithful and loyal to our mother Zambia.”