The Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) is deeply concerned at the unrestrained involvement of Government in the selection of traditional leaders in the country in total contravention of the provisions of the republican Constitution Article 127 (2), the Chiefs Act No. 67 of 1965 as amended in 1994 and PF Manifesto (2011-2016).
FODEP would like to remind Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs Hon. Prof. Nkandu Luo that she has no legal right or powers under the law to instruct law enforcement officers to arrest any traditional leader, be it Chitimukulu or any other, who is duly installed by the relevant traditional councils or counselors.
Our Constitution is categorical in Article 127 (2) with regards any unresolved issues on chiefs. It states that “In any community where the issue of a chief has not been resolved, the issue shall be resolved by the community concerned using a method prescribed by an Act of Parliament.”
Therefore, the mandate to resolve any controversy on chiefs matters remains a preserve of the “communities concerned not government or Prof Nkandu Luo.
The only intervention the government can apply, through the President, is invoking the provisions of section 5 of the chiefs Act of 1965 by appointing an inquiry.
Section 5 states that “the President may appoint a person or persons to inquire into any question relating to the recognition of any person under this Act or the withdrawal of the recognition accorded to any such person and, on the completion of the inquiry, to report and make recommendations thereon to the President.”
FODEP is not aware of any inquiry instituted on Chitimukulu succession process and if it was done, then it was done secretly hence the problems being faced today.
FODEP values the institution of chiefs as key to good governance and would like to remind Prof. Nkandu Luo and President Michael Sata that if they are interested in resolving the Chitimukulu controversy, they should follow the law by appointing an inquiry which should make recommendations to the President for a decision on the question.
Amazingly, despite the constitution empowering the House of Chiefs to advise government on the traditional, customary and any other related matters, the House has remained conspicuously absent and mute while tradition and culture is being mutilated by politicians.
In the presence of inertia from the House of Chiefs, FODEP calls on all traditional leaders in the country to unite and defend their rights to royal thrones by demanding for an immediate review of the Chiefs Act No. 67 of 1965.
The Act in its present form gives politicians too much power to meddle in traditional affairs and exposes principled traditional leaders vulnerable to political intimidation and harassment.
This is not good for good governance and growth of democracy in Zambia.