Dr. Kenneth Kaunda (KK), our first Republican President, did not just declare the Motto, “One Zambia One Nation” as a slogan, he put it into action following the famous Choma Declaration. But what is this Declaration?
Shortly after independence, there was political tension and fighting because Zambians belonged to various political parties along tribal lines, a situation which made KK comprehend how to bring to a halt such violence and division.
Mr. Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula, whose party, then, the African National Congress (ANC) was the only other big party in the country, agreed to work together with KK’s United National Independent Party (UNIP) and proposed that since Choma was the major political centre of ANC, they should, after the whole agreement was reached, go and sign the agreement in that town.
It was signed on June 27, 1973, at Choma Secondary School. That is why it is known as the Choma Declaration. As Zambians, we had agreed to work together, as brothers and sisters from various backgrounds, to build more harmony, unity, peace, development and stability. Because of the Choma Declaration, a lot, over the years, was achieved only to be destroyed by a foreign governance system called multiparty democracy.
The irony about all this is that it was the violence of multiparty democracy that forced Harry and Kenneth to abandon it and yet out of our insatiable appetite for power coupled with imperialists who were lurking by the doorsteps for our natural resources, we reverted to a failed formula instead of working on the succession modalities at the helm since noone liked voting for a frog.
Democracy in Africa was not introduced to promote good governance. It was a tool by our former colonial masters to put Africa in check. It has since lead to inefficient governments, endless power transitions and social chaos. It prioritizes the immediate needs of politicians over those of a nation united with a purpose to develop.
In the United States, just a couple of days ago, we saw how multiparty democracy prioritises party interests over national values. The vote to impeach Donald Trump was not premised on the evidence but on party affiliation, something we are familiar with here in Zambia, probably proving just how advanced we are as Zambians.
Today, whether a President fires anyone who sounds tribal or orders to delete the word tribalism from all dictionaries in Zambia, as long as we keep a governance system we did not create to address our diverse ethnic groups, tribalism in politics will continue because our political parties are not defined on values such as Liberal Democrats, Conservatives, Christian Democrats, etc.
This information is even in the report of the Commission of Enquiry on Political Violence. The solution to restore “One Zambia One Nation” lies in devising a new governance system which will prioritize development over political hegemony.
According to the report, Zambia is effectively divided into two, the Northern Block and the Southern Block. For sustainable political peace to exist, our governance system must be one that recognises that the Southern Block equally wishes to see a President from its Block. Burying our heads in the sand while reciting the “One Zambia One Nation” motto won’t help at all. It’s just a “bandage” over a cancerous sore.
We need to do more and talk less. Equally, where action is needed, let’s not dwell on prayers. With unpredictable rainfall, we must invest heavily in irrigation and harvesting any rainfall we are blessed with in dams for irrigation. With a people united at a political level, we will preoccupy our minds with development, in the manner Rwanda is operating today.
Mpandashalo Evans Mwewa
Global Capstone Centre
For Leadership Development
WhatsApp: +260 977 430702
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