GUEST ARTICLE: The nonsense of Umodzi Kumawa

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By Ronald Ngulube

Regional or tribal politics by nature can be quite divisive if not handled carefully and if activities of the Umodzi Kum’mawa grouping are anything to go by, Zambians need to get concerned.

The grouping, which hails from the Eastern Province, identifies itself as “a group dedicated to promoting development within the province and speaking for the welfare of our people”.

But they have strangely written an “open letter” to President Hakainde Hichilema requesting him to consider “appointing more individuals from Eastern Province in your cabinet particularly in light of the current vacancy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as you reshuffle.”

The audacity (Ati tyala bati. Chiputa kuipa!)

The group believes that United Party for National Development (UPND) members “hailing from Eastern Province, as well as those sympathetic to the party within the province, should be given the opportunity to serve, provided they possess the necessary credentials just like other Zambians from UPND strongholds.”

Does this group need reminding that there are people from the Eastern Province in cabinet?

As if that is not enough, in their so-called request, signed by their interim spokesperson Chanoda Ngwira, the group has further suggested a list of names Mr Hichilema should consider appointing.

According to Umodzi Kum’mawa, characters like Professor Edgar Ngoma, who once made HIV positive people drink swimming pool cleaning chemicals as a cure, Ambassador George K Zulu, Noel Nkhoma, Colonel Bizwayo Nkunika and eight others deserve ministerial positions, including occupying the current vacancy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Based on this letter alone, one doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to decipher that this group and its members are filled with a contagious sense of self-importance and entitlement.

A number of these people – Angela Chifire, George Zulu and Colonel Bizwayo Nkunika as an example – have already served the country in different portfolios and are even too old to be canvassing for further appointments. Does it mean they will continue serving this country in perpetuity? And why only them?

So, if all ethnic groupings and provinces formed the so-called developmental regional bodies and presented similar lists to the President, who in the end will he appoint?

If the motivation of this grouping is really to develop the province as they want us to believe and not self-serving intent, a number of them are rich and have wider business networks. If the likes of Andrew Kamanga, Robinson Zulu, Noel Nkhoma and all Zambians of Asian origin hailing from the Eastern Province combined their business networks, how much would the region be worth?

Why can’t they use those networks to attract investment to the region? Why can’t they work with the local chamber of commerce to promote business and trade? Is development only brought about through political appointments? What, then, is the role of the already existing Members of Parliament and other public officers?

The President should be allowed to appoint people on merit and not based on regionalism otherwise that would be promoting nepotism and tribalism.

Instead of these selfish individuals rushing to lobby for appointments, they should spend such time mobilizing resources to help in the fight against cholera, typhoid, dysentery or the fall of army worms that are ravaging the country, Eastern Province included.

Since Umodzi Kum’mawa “aims to strategically advance development programs for the people of Eastern Province in the broader context for the modernization of Zambia by advocating for and defending their interests and rights in all sectors” as highlighted in their letter to the President, that can also be done without lobbying for political appointments.

Since the “coalition recognizes that the region has abundant natural resources and the local people must always be engaged and prioritized to discover and actualize their full developmental potential just like other Zambians elsewhere” the selfish leaders of this grouping must also use their business networks and resources to develop the province. Development does not only come through political connections or appointments.

Any Zambian genuinely interested in the development of this country must not look at it through the lenses of Kumodzi Kum’mawa, Cuundu Caitwa or Luapula United.

Such tribal and regional nonsense must come to an end forthwith!

Someone also needs to remind former diplomats like Ambassador Zulu and Colonel Bizwayo Nkunika that it’s undiplomatic and uncouth to engage a President through open, public letters no matter how well intentioned your actions may be.

Kalemba January 10, 2024

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