GOVERNMENT has apologised to Paramount Chief Mpezeni of the Ngoni people of Eastern Province for the police’s cancellation of a meeting he was to address over a land settlement dispute between the Ngonis and the Chewas in Chipangali on Sunday.
Chief government spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili said in a statement in Lusaka yesterday that Government has learnt of last Sunday’s events with deep sadness.
On Sunday, police forcibly dispersed people who had gathered to be addressed by Paramount Chief Mpezeni.
Mr Kambwili, who is Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, assured Paramount Chief Mpezeni that Government holds traditional leaders in high esteem and relies on them for guidance and counsel not only on traditional matters but in maintaining peace and fostering development.
“Government, after receiving reports from relevant government operatives, regrets Sunday’s events and assures Chief Mpezeni that this will not happen again,” Mr Kambwili said.
The minister said Government has taken keen interest in the matter and stands ready to hear the royal establishment over the current disagreements between the two tribes.
“Government further hopes political players or any other individuals do not aggravate the tension by issuing statements that will not help resolve the differences between the two tribes,” Mr Kambwili said.
Meanwhile, police have dispelled reports that tear gas was used to disperse Ngonis who gathered in Chipangali last Sunday for a meeting that was due to be addressed by Paramount Chief Mpezeni.
Acting police spokesperson Esther Katongo said in a statement issued in Lusaka yesterday that the police officers just advised the people who had gathered to disperse.
She said police action was based on information it had received that violence was likely to erupt at the meeting.
Ms Katongo said police did not at any particular time use tear gas to disperse the crowd that had gathered for the said meeting and authorities at Dwankozi Secondary School, where people had gathered, could confirm this.
She urged the general public to notify police whenever they want to hold a public meeting or procession.
“This is not aimed at stopping the holding of such meetings or processions, but rather that it is a requirement under the Public Order Act,” she said.
Meanwhile, JIMMY CHIBUYE reports that Government takes great exception to 4th Revolution (4R) leader Eric Chanda’s utterances that Zambians should not vote for President Lungu next year so that he can pay attention to his health.
Chief government spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili said in a statement issued in Lusaka yesterday that Government notes with concern that Mr Chanda has been quoted disparaging President Lungu in some sections of the media for some time now.
Mr Kambwili, who is also Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, warned Mr Chanda that he will soon be required to answer for his careless statements.
“Mr Chanda’s disrespect for the head of state makes one wonder whether he has any respect for the Office of the President, which he so envisions as would be his in future,” he said.
The minister said contrary to Mr Chanda’s distasteful comments in Wednesday’s edition of The Post, Government under President Lungu’s leadership is on course to delivering development to the people.
He said no amount of negativity from Mr Chanda and his “ill-will” will derail Mr Lungu from achieving the objective.
“The earlier Mr Chanda woke up to the reality that he is a political novice, with no following, the better for him, otherwise he is destined for the political archive,” Mr Kambwili said.