Power and Politics

House of Chiefs rejects M’membe’s plans to drag traditional rulers into active politics


House of Chiefs Chairperson Chief Chisunka has expressed reservations over the proposal by Socialist Party president, Fred M’membe, to appoint traditional leaders into state offices at provincial and district levels.

“The House of Chiefs wishes to address this proposition, the House firmly believes the proposal by Mr M’membe directly contradicts the fundamental principles enshrined in the Zambian Constitution,” the traditional leader said.

He said in a statement on Monday that the House of Chiefs found the proposal incomparable with the very foundation on which the nation was built on, which was the constitution.

“Furthermore, the House express concern that appointing chiefs to state offices could potentially disrupt the peaceful coexistence of various tribal groups since traditional leaders are seen as unifiers of all people regardless of their political associations,” Chief Chisunka said.

He observed that the constitution clearly assigned functions to chieftaincy and traditional institutions as custodians of customary law and culture over defined territorial boundaries.

Read more: mmembe-plans-to-abolish-zambian-constitution-rule-by-decree-if-elected-president-presidency-alleges

Chief Chisunka made reference to Article 165 (1) provided that “the institution of chieftaincy and traditional institution are guaranteed and shall exist in accordance with the culture, custom and traditions of the people to whom they apply.”

Article 168 (2) expressly prohibits chiefs from participating in state affairs by stating “a chief who seeks to hold office in a political party, or election or appointment to a state office, except that of councillor, shall abdicate the chief’s throne.”

He added that Section 6 (2) of the Chiefs Act CAP 287 of the laws of Zambia reiterated the position of the constitution as regards the functions of chiefs to be preservation of the African customary law within their limited respective geographic jurisdictions.

“The House of Chiefs does not support the idea of installing traditional leaders in state offices because of its potential to create disharmony among tribal groups which are peacefully co-existing presently.”

While politicians are free to offer ideas of how they want the country to be governed, Chief Chisunka said they should desist from propagating ideas which were out rightly divisive.

The SP leader was recently quoted as suggesting that once in power, he would abolish the positions of provincial ministers and district commissioners and transfer state functions to traditional leaders to create an inclusive government .

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