Thursday, October 29, 2009
By Ernest Chanda in Namwala
Thu 29 Oct. 2009, 04:00 CAT
SENIOR chief Bright Nalubamba of the Ila people in Namwala district has questioned government attacks on chiefs who support opposition political leaders. Speaking when three traditional leaders from Chinsali on Wednesday paid a courtesy call on him at his palace, chief Nalubamba said opposition leaders were also Zambians who should be supported when they performed well.
Three Bemba chiefs, Mukwikile, Chewe and Chimbuka, visited chief Nalubamba to promote interaction among traditional leaders. He said he believed in the tenets of democracy where people's views should be respected regardless of who they offended or pleased.
“We as traditional leaders are available to making a contribution to democratic governance. We have a problem with people who pretend to know what they don't know. If a chief highlights government's problems it doesn't mean that traditional leader is an enemy of the state. We know how ignorance can play a devastating role in society, and that's why we don't want our subjects to be ignorant of what is happening in their country,” chief Nalubamba said.
“It would be unreasonable for any government to consider the opposition irrelevant in governance. The opposition have got something to contribute to national development.
Why should it be right for Chitimukulu, Mukuni or those chiefs in Chitambo to support MMD and then it's wrong for other traditional leaders to support the opposition? What is good for the ruling party should be good for the opposition as well. In fact, government should accept the fact that the opposition are a government in waiting. When they do well we shall praise them, and when they get to power we shall remind them to continue doing well.”
Chief Nalubamba said chiefs had power to assist governments in governance because they were closer to the people.
“For example, today you found me making a foundation for our classroom block with my people. That's how we work as traditional leaders. We have power to assist government in governance by supplementing what they do, and they can't deny that. And to you my fellow chiefs, I urge you to be frank, don't be abused by politicians. And if those in power come to ask you about your problems, be frank with them, don't appease them. If you don't tell them the truth they will make you blunt instead of sharpening you. In the end you will not help your people and the people will disown you,” he said.
He bemoaned his recent fall out with the government, saying the amount of hate towards him would not stop him from speaking for his people.
“Government officials should not be afraid of talking to chiefs.
Right now they can't talk to me for reasons of hate, please tell them that I don't care for as long as my people are well-informed and looked after. And for you my traditional brothers, government should respect you because you have got value. We are not chasing after their power, we already have enough. For me I just want to help change the governance system. By the way, who told them that because they are in power now then everyone else is a fool?” chief Nalubamba asked.
“Please don't consider people who vote for the opposition as senseless people; I refuse to be classified that way. I don't want to be threatened because you are threatening the unthreatenable. I will always voice out my opinion as a Zambian and as a leader who is seeing how my people are suffering. Whether what I say pleases those in power or not it doesn't matter for as long as I speak for my people.”
And chief Mukwikile said the choices traditional leaders make should not be bound by conditions. He said it was gratifying that traditional leaders could meet occasionally to discuss governance issues.
“First of all it is most gratifying that we came here to pay a courtesy call on chief Nalubamba. As chiefs we should be meeting to discuss governance issues. Much as we know that we have to work with the government of the day, we should also know that each one of us has got his own choices to make. We should not be bound by conditionalities,” chief Mukwikile said.
“In the Bemba establishment we have what we call the Ilamfya Council where we meet to discuss governance and developmental issues. We are here to learn from our brother how he goes about governing his people. There should be no issues of tribe because whether you are Lozi, Mambwe or Bemba the same poverty affects you. Our interaction therefore should flow down to our subjects so that we promote national unity.”
And chief Chewe said traditional leaders should talk more politics because they have the people.
“There are some people who think that chiefs have got no people. But I can tell them that we have the majority people and that is why politicians come to us asking for a vote. Right now we are not talking politics but unity of chiefs. We can also talk politics because we have the people. And we are the foundation of all politics because we were there before political governments started. It is there in history that chiefs ruled first before politicians, so we have more wisdom than them.”
Meanwhile, chief Chimbuka said the political pacts should be supported because they are a good alternative.
“When you read about the history of Zambia you will understand that the African National Congress which was led by Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula was also deputised by Lawrence Katilungu, a Bemba from Kasama. And Namwala was Katilungu's first constituency because he stood here and won resoundingly. So, political pacts between these two brothers have not started today. Mwaanga and Kaunda went into a pact and it worked, so even the current pact between the UPND and the PF will work. We are here to revive our old relationship with our brothers in Namwala,” said chief Chimbuka.