Govt . grateful for the role traditional leadership in development
CHOMA, March 30th,2014, ZANIS — Government says it is grateful with the role that traditional leaders play as part of the governance system of the country.
Chiefs and traditional affairs Minister Professor Nkandu luo says government was grateful to the traditional leadership for supporting government’s economic and social development programmes .
Professor Luo said national development programmes set by government could not have been achieved if traditional leaders were not engaged in the country’s governance systems such as what occurred in the previous governments.
“The previous governments did not see the important role of traditional leaders in development, but the PF government under the able leadership of President Micheal Sata well recognizes that chiefs are key partners in development and created a Ministry specifically for traditional leaders”, she said.
The Chiefs and Traditional Affairs minister said this during the launch of the National medical Male circumcision April campaign that was held in Chief Singani’s chiefdom, yesterday.
She said that other African countries that engaged traditional leaders in Fighting HIV/AIDS in the previous years were now recording a single digit prevalence rate saying that Zambia has in the past 30 years recorded a double digit HIV prevalence rate.
She however thanked the traditional leadership in the country for its active participation in the fight against going by the tremendous reduction in the prevalence rate in places where they were involved.
“HIV/AIDS is both a development and an economic issue that affects the development of the country, it must be recognized that traditional leaders have played a vital role in fighting the epidemic in rural areas”, she said
She however urged the men and boys in the chiefdom to get circumcised as a protective measure against HIV as she further implored the women and girls to go for cervical cancer Screening.
Professor Luo also appealed to traditional leaders in the province to strongly campaign against child marriages saying that the vice was robbing the country of a productive future generation.
And a traditional leader in Southern province pledged to take a leading role in promoting Voluntary Medical Male circumcision (VMMC) in his chiefdom and the rest of the province.
Chief Singani of the Tonga speaking people of Choma District says although Male circumcision was foreign to his subjects , it was important for health both for men and women.
Chief Singani noted that it was for this reason that his chiefdom has welcomed and accepted VMMC because of its protective value against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and in the prevention of cervical cancer to women.
Chief Singani however advised his fellow traditional leaders in the province to promote male circumcision in their respective chiefdoms.
“ To my fellow chiefs, senior headmen and various village leaders, let me point that it is true and a fact that circumcision has never been part of the Tonga tradition , but however we should note that culture or tradition is dynamic in today’s world”, he said
Meanwhile USAID/Zambia HIV/AIDS multi-sectoral team leader Ky Lam a representative of the United States government said the US government has invested over 50 million US dollars which had resulted in more than 300 thousand VMMC being conducted since 2007.
Ms Lam said the US government will continue to support chiefdoms in the country to help them scale up the promotion of VMMC especially in communities were the practice is considered uncultured.
The VMMC April campaign which was launched by Minister of chiefs and traditional affairs professor Nkandu luo in Chief Singani’s chiefdom has a national target of circumcising about 70 thousand men and boys countrywide by April 30th 2014.
The national campaign on VMMC was launched under the rationale, use of traditional leaders as champions of Voluntary Male circumcision in chiefdoms.
Also present at the Launch was chief Chikanta, deputy Minister of Community Development mother and child health, and deputy Minister from the Ministry of Chiefs and traditional affairs and various heads of government departments.