Luapula Province Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo has warned traditional leaders bent on frustrating developmental efforts by the government that they risk being dishonoured.
Mr. Kasolo said chiefs must understand that they are only the custodians of land while its ownership is vested in the government through the President.
The PS said he was touched and concerned with the perception by some chiefs in the province who are fond of asking for money from the government and other agents of development at the expense of scaring away investors.
Mr. Kasolo was speaking in Nchelenge District yesterday when he led a team of physical planners from Lusaka and Luapula Provinces at Nchelenge District Commissioner (DC) Royd Chakaba’s office.
Mr. Kasolo said he is aware that some traditional leaders in the Province and Nchelenge in particular have continued thwarting government efforts that are aimed at fostering development and poverty alleviation among the people.
He cited a named chief in Nchelenge who has been inciting his subjects to defy government’s directive to vacate the fish breeding areas on Mweru Lake and to defile the annual fish ban.
Mr. Kasolo warned that no one including chiefs is above the law and that inciting people to illegally fish during the annual ban and the illegal allocation of plots especially in the township area is a criminal offence.
He said the PF government is in a hurry to develop the country and mitigate poverty among its citizens.
He has since urged chiefs to exhibit responsible leadership so that their subjects can get the best from the government.
“Help us to bring development to your chiefdoms through credible leadership,” Mr. Kasolo said.
The PS said government will take time to reason with traditional leaders and that it will not hesitate to engage the police to institute legal proceedings against erring traditional leaders.
“As government we will take time to reason with the traditional leadership and where we don’t reach a compromise, we will engage the police to institute legal proceedings against the erring chiefs,” Mr. Kasolo said.
He further said asking for money from the government and other agents of development by the traditional leaders is criminality and must be stopped without negotiations.
Earlier Nchelenge District Commissioner (DC) Royd Chakaba complained that the district did not benefit from the Land Development Fund under the Ministry of Lands administered by the local authorities because of land wrangles.
Mr. Chakaba told the PS that the land wrangles between some traditional leaders and the local authority have continued to hinder potential developers in the area.
Mr. Chakaba said a local chief and his indunas have been at war with the local authority over the ownership of land which has led to villagers encroaching into institutional and township land.
He cited the brewing land wrangle involving chief Kambwali, Nchelenge Secondary School, the National Credit and Savings Bank (NATSAVE) and the local authority.
The DC said it is alleged that the Nchelenge District Council sold the land that belongs to the secondary school to the bank while the traditional leader is also claiming that the land belongs to him.
He said such land wrangles are retrogressive to any potential developer.
Mr. Chakaba has since called for the re-planning of the Nchelenge Township in order to woo investors.