Sata PF symbol nice close up

The following video contains recordings of Zambian President Michael Sata ordering the army to go to Lukula in Western Province to fire upon Zambian citizens, as well as footage of Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba rousing the cadres to engage in violence during the last campaign, and the footage from Judge Ngoma’s public assault against former PF member Samson Zulu.

According to the CDDR report to the Commonwealth:

Incitement of Ethnic Violence by the Patriotic Front Government

According to the 2009 Affirmation of Commonwealth Values and Principles (Appendix I), member states are obliged to uphold “equality and respect for protection and promotion of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights for all without discrimination on any grounds.”  The Affirmation further requires that member states recognise that “tolerance, respect, and understanding strengthen democracy and development; recognising also that respect for the dignity of all human beings is critical to promoting peace and prosperity.”

However, these principles are persistently violated by the Patriotic Front government of President Michael Sata through a determined policy to manipulate tribal and ethnic conflicts for political gain.

In a country of no fewer than 73 different tribal groupings, there has always been a precarious balance to manage the representation of different groups through informal and formal means, especially in the ethnic make up of the cabinet.  From Presidents Kaunda to Chiluba to Mwanawasa to Banda, the cabinets have always historically been diverse, however, for the first time in history under President Sata the cabinet is dominated by at least 10 Bemba members from his homeland in the Northern Province, raising dangerous tensions among excluded groups.[1]

On several occasions President Sata has sought to weaken the opposition by inciting tribal conflicts, using hate speech in false news stories spread via the pro-government media.  On 3 September 2012 state-owned ZNBC broadcast a hoax story concerning a letter from an invented terrorist group known as “Tongas Under Oath,” which claimed that the Southern minority ethnic grouping had plans to murder Bembas in Zambia.[2]  It would later be revealed that the fake letter originated from within State House as part of an effort to attack the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND).

On 20 July 2012 another hoax article citing an “anonymous source” was published in the pro-government Post newspaper, claiming that former President Rupiah Banda was determined to prevent the Bemba tribal grouping from nominating a president.[3]   Three days later, the PF Secretary General Wynter Kabimba publicly denounced former President Banda, claiming that “tribalism runs in his blood”[4] in an effort to cause divisions within the opposition Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD).

However, the most egregious provocation of ethnic violence by President Sata occurred on 30 November 2012, when he publicly ordered the Army to fire upon Lozi activists from the separatist enclave of Barotseland.  Addressing Army Commander Lt. General Erick Chimense during a graduation ceremony for the SADC Region Defence Command, Sata made specific ethnic references to the Lozi language, commenting, “When you go there, just fire, when they say ‘Fa’ you fire, when they say ‘enisha’ just fire at them, do not hesitate.”[5]  President Sata’s incitement of the military to kill Lozi citizens falls within the ambit of Crimes against Humanity.

The Zambian government’s attempt to provoke tribalism has been widely denounced by civil society groups and international observed.  On 6 September 2012, several foreign diplomats, including U.S. Ambassador Mark Storella, are reported to have met with President Sata to urge him to abstain from inciting ethnic conflict.[6]  On 22 October 2012, the CDDR wrote an open letter to President Sata and other top officials citing these cases of violence and demanding that the PF government halt their unlawful use of violence against the democratic opposition (See Appendix II).

The ruling party has also engaged in the practice of deploying paid youth cadres to harass, intimidate, and violently attack the opposition.[7]  Upon winning the election, one of Sata’s first actions as President was to order the release of a convicted felon, Judge Ngoma.  Mr. Ngoma formerly served as Sata’s personal bodyguard and was a known organizer of violent youth cadres. Ngoma had been convicted of assault and sentenced to three years in prison for an incident in 2009 in which he publicly dragged two former PF members, Samson Zulu and Mubanga Chileshe, out into the street and commenced to violently beat them in full view of television cameras and witnesses.[8]

During the 2011 presidential campaign, several high ranking PF officials openly incited their cadres to take up machetes and arms and go for blood.  Party Secretary General Wynter Kabimba, who would later become Minister of Justice, in particular was caught on camera ordering the cadres to violently attack members of the MMD.

This state-sponsored violence by the Patriotic Front has caused numerous serious injuries, especially among members of the opposition UPND party.  One PF cadre member, Mr. Menyani Zulu, was even allegedly murdered as a result of these activities during the Rufunsa by-elections of November 2012.  However, despite the fact that police on the scene ruled out any participation by opposition cadres, President Sata immediately laid blame on the MMD and UPND, and ordered the jailing of several activists who were not even near the scene of the crime.[9]



[1] “Sata Stirs the Tribal Pot in Zambia,” by Open Society for Southern Africa, Sept. 12, 2012 (http://www.osisa.org/general/blog/sata-stirs-tribal-pot-zambia)

[2] http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/09/09/zambia-tonga-terror-claim-real-or-fake/

[3] http://zambiareports.com/2012/07/20/president-sata-plays-the-ethnic-card-against-rupiah-banda/

[4] http://www.postzambia.com/post-read_article.php?articleId=28682

[5] http://zambiareports.com/2012/11/30/sata-orders-killing-of-barotse-activist/

[6] http://zambiareports.com/2012/09/06/donors-warn-zambian-president-stop-potential-tribal-war/

[7] http://allafrica.com/stories/201211291098.html

[8] “Sam Zulu Continues Seeking Sata’s Arrest for Assaulting Him,” Zambian Watchdog, Aug. 24, 2011. (http://www.zambianwatchdog.com/2011/08/24/sam-zulu-continues-seeking-satas-arrest-for-assaulting-him/)

[9] http://cddr-zambia.org/2012/11/21/michael-satas-false-arrests-over-rufunsa-violence-are-politically-motivated-says-cddr/

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