Monday, May 13, 2013

Bashilubemba, Sata differ
By Ernest Chanda
Sun 12 May 2013, 14:00 CAT

THE Bemba Royal Establishment (Bashilubemba) has differed with President Michael Sata over his decision to degazette Henry Sosala Senior Chief Mwamba of the Bemba-speaking people of Kasama.

Last Thursday, President Sata withdrew recognition of Henry Kanyanta Sosala as senior chief Mwamba of the Bemba-speaking people of Kasama.

According to well-placed sources, Bashilubemba had a meeting over the matter on Friday where they rejected President Sata's decision, calling it government interference in traditional affairs.

"Bashilubemba met yesterday (Friday) and they discussed this matter extensively because they were concerned. So, they all rejected the President's decision; in their view, the government is interfering with traditional affairs. The Bemba Royal Establishment gave examples of the previous two Chitimukulus who did not undergo traditional rituals but they remained Chitimukulus until their death. As far as the establishment is concerned, they still recognise (Sosala) as senior chief Mwamba," said the sources yesterday.

"They also said in the meeting that they are aware that the government is trying to install one of the two Bisa chiefs as Chitimukulu.

Bashilubemba are saying they are aware that the government has lined up chief Chibesakunda and chief Chewe so that one of them can become Chitimukulu. So, they are travelling to Lusaka to meet the President and Honourable chiefs and traditional affairs minister Prof Nkandu Luo over the state's decision. And on Monday the Bemba Royal Establishment will issue a statement to officially state their position."

In a letter dated May 8 to Prof Luo, President Sata instructed that payment of subsistence allowance to Sosala be stopped.

Last Monday, President Sata accused Sosala of masquerading as chief Mwamba.

President Sata asked media houses to stop publishing material coming from Sosala as chief Mwamba because he did not deserve the title of a traditional leader.

He stated that Sosala was not properly installed, hence did not deserve the title. Sosala is a Post columnist whose articles come out in the Saturday Post insert.

"By copy of this letter, I am demanding that The Post newspapers and other media institutions immediately cease quoting or admitting any material for publication from the said gentleman, under the title of senior chief Mwamba until this confusion is sorted out," stated President Sata in his letter to Prof Luo, dated May 6, 2013 and copied to The Post.

And responding to President Sata's accusation that he was masquerading, Sosala wondered why the government was on him now when it had all along been quiet.

Sosala said he felt victimised by the government in the manner he had been singled out from the other Bemba chiefs that had also not been properly installed.

"This thing has come up now, why has it come up when it is about two months away from installing the new Chitimukulu? And if I'm not properly installed, can the government properly install me? Is it the duty of the government to install me properly? And then it (the government) said we are about four or five, I don't know, but why particularly on me? If the government wants to appoint Chitimukulu, they should just come out and appoint instead of victimising me," he said on Thursday.

"It's very suspicious. As a tradition, we put in a caretaker after the Chitimukulu has died. But this man who was acting was removed. And then what it means is, because those who embalm are supposed to get at least something from the paramount chief's sub-chiefs, but since the government withdrew that man, I am the only one paying for those. So, I don't know anyway the motive behind the government; but it's a bit worrying."

Sosala said he did not understand why the government was meddling in traditional affairs.

He said Prof Luo only understood much about the Bisa chieftaincy, and not the Bemba one.

"I would like to thank the President for his words. Honourable Nkandu Luo knows about Bisa traditions, not Bemba. I don't understand how the government is coming into traditional affairs, especially rituals; because normally rituals are traditional affairs and government plays another role. But I don't know in my state why the government is concerned about rituals, just in my case, in my special case," said Sosala.

"The government has never been involved in rituals, but why is it particularly now interested in my rituals? So those are the big questions. Now, are we trying to say that the government will take on both rituals and gazetting? This is the impression the government is giving us."

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