The Lusaka Provincial Constitution Consultative Convention has retained Article 228 of the Draft Constitution to allow tradition leaders participate in public affairs but restrict them from engaging in active party politics.
But the four traditional leaders who are in attendance at the convention proposed that the Article be amended to remove chiefs from holding public offices and participating in public affairs, a proposal which was turned down.
Chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamambo II of the Soli people of Chongwe district noted that traditional leaders should not be allowed to hold public office due to their role in society and the status as traditional leaders which requires them to be neutral.
The traditional leader observed that chiefs can only be engaged to help with national development by working with government of the day not holding public office or participate in active politics.
Her comments were shared by both Chief Luchembe and Mphuka who emphasised that chiefs should not be involved in party politics because they lead the whole community which entails that they cannot side with any section or grouping of their people.
The traditional leaders’ arguments were dismissed by Kabwata Member of Parliament, Given Lubinda, who contended that traditional leaders have wisdom to lead hence the need to incorporate them in public affairs to lead the way.
Mr Lubinda said some traditional leaders are experts in certain fields in which they may be required to share with others by being appointed to public offices such as boards which do not draw funding from the consolidated fund.
He cited Chief Luchembe who is a member of the Technical Committee Drafting the Zambian Constitution as one of the examples of the traditional leaders with expertise to discharge in public office whom he said should not be denied chance to offer service.
The Parliamentarian, however, noted that chiefs should be given public offices which suit their expertise and are non political in order to allow them discharge their duties as traditional leaders without being suspected to be partisan.
Meanwhile, the traditional leaders have lost a bid to be included in the composition of the district council as stated in the draft constitution.
Article 213 of the draft constitution, Clause (e) states that the district council shall consist of councillors who include, among others, three chiefs’ representing all the chiefs in the district who will be elected by the chiefs in the district but the clause was amended to remove chiefs.
Some delegates feared that the presence of traditional leaders would instil fear in the councillors to debate freely, hence the decision to leave them out.
But Senior Chieftainess Nkomeshya argued that chiefs would provide guidance to the house and not intimidate other councillors but was not supported by any other chief and the motion was subjected to a vote which the convention voted against.