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CHIEF NALUBAMBA FOR PARTICIPATION OF CHIEFS IN ACTIVE POLITICS

By Fredrick Macha

There has been since independence in 1964 four commissions of inquiry to inquire in matters of the Constitution. In 1972, the Chona commission was appointed which was followed in 1990 by the appointment of the Mvunga commmsions.In the third Republic with the change of government after twenty-seven years of rule by the United National Independence party [UNIP] two more commissions were appointed. In 1993 the Mwanakatwe Constitution Review Commission was appointed followed by the Mung’omba Review Commission 2003. All these commissions have had one thing in common, namely the method of reviewing the constitution.

The Mung’omba CRC was appointed by the late president Dr Levy Patrick Mwanawasa by Stutory Instrument No 40 of 2003 under the Inquiries Act CAP 41. The Commission was tasked to Review the Constitution of Zambia and obtain submissions from the people in all the one hundred and fifty parliamentary Constituencies. The Commission carried out its work over a period of over two years and submitted a report and draft constitution to the head of state.

One of the terms of reference of the CRC was to recommend whether the constitution should be adopted, altered or re-enacted by the National Assembly, by a National Referendum by any other method. The commission concluded on this term of reference by recommending that the new constitution should be adopted by a constituent Assembly, a constitutional Conference or any other popular body that would adequately represent views of the people. The reasons advanced for a Constituent Assembly or other popular body concluded that parliament was   is not representative enough of all various social interests in the country; that the formulation of a new constitution should be more inclusive, broad based, gender representative and encourage the participation of all citizen in order to give the constitution making process legitimacy.

NCC
The government responded positively to that recommendation and thus the National Constitutional Conference [NCC] Act No 19 of 2007 was enacted by parliament in August 2007.

The NCC is a forum for the examination, debate and adoption of the draft constitution.

In a quest to make the constitution legitimacy members of the public are free to debate, give their views on some controversial issues in the Draft constitution so that   consensus   could be reached with members of the NCC. Additionally this allows for people to be part and parcel of the constitution making process.

One of the controversial issues has been the participation of traditional rulers in politics and stand for elective office which Chief Nalubamba of Namwala District strongly supports.

He argues the allowing chief in politics would accelerate   economic development to the people as the tradition leaders live with the people and therefore know the problem people go through in their daily lives.

“Chiefs are generally accessible to and interact freely and openly with their people this paves way for people to freely articulate the developmental needs they want in the area,” said Chief Nalubamba.

His Royal Highness explained that Chief have been in politics since independence and contributed immensely to the peace and development of the country.

“Chiefs were actively involved in politics during the struggle for independence but they became irrelevant after that due to greed ad selfishness by some politicians,’ said Chief Nalubamba.

He contend that allowing chief to participate in politics would bring order and sanity to the political   arena as opposed to the current situation where there was a culture of trading insults at the expense of talking about development.

“Chiefs would bring politics of honour as opposed to politics of insults we witness today,” said Chief Nalubamba.

He said traditional leaders should be allowed to join politics so that they too could enjoy their human rights to take part in the democratic dispensation of the country.

But views by His Royal Highness Nalubamba sparked reactions from several headmen in Makaba area and Namwala District Roma Catholic sister Yolata Mwiila who feels Chiefs would loss the respect and dignity they have enjoyed from time immemorial from their subjects if they joined politics.

Headmen, Makaba, Munamonga, Sompani, Hanengeta and Lutango argued that allowing Chiefs in politics would mean they would be out of their chiefdom more often due to other National duties thereby people would be deprived of development in the long run.

Chiefs   also have immerse responsibility to ensure that the traditional values of their tribe are preserved so that they [values] could be passed from generation to generation and if they join politics there would nobody to be the “keeper” of these traditional values, the headmen said.

“Chiefs are custodians of tradition and culture and I think if they joined politics their roles to expeditiously carry out their tradition roles bestowed upon them would be compromised,” said Headman Munamonga.

“Besides that if they are successfully elected into public office, traditional rulers would be overloaded with work such that their overall performance would be below par,” observed Headman Munamonga.

The headmen also warned that there would confusion in the governance of the country if Chiefs are allowed to participate in politics.

And Sister Mwiila supported Headmen’s views adding that it was important for chiefs to be neutral so they could be effectively articulate pressing developmental issues for their subjects without bias.

Apart from that traditional rulers would be better placed to offer advice to politicians when differences occur in the National political scene so that peace could be sustained in the country.

Sister Mwilla also observed that traditional leaders had more influence than politician and should therefore use this influence to press the government to fulfill developmental desires of the people without necessary participating in politics.

Controversial

Another controversial issue that has triggered debate in the Mung’omba draft constitution is whether the number of members of parliament should be increased from the current 150 to 200.

But Namwala Catholic parish priest Father Emmanuel Jere says it would be suicidal for the number to be increased to 200 because they country already had enough MPS whose performance just need to be enhanced so that they can deliver.

And two headmen of Chitongo ward in Namwala District echoed Father Jere’s views that increasing the number of MPS would be a sheer waste of tax payers’ money.

Senior Headman Habenge and headman Monde both argued that a poor country like Zambia should instead strive to reduce on the number of constitutional office bearers.

They observed that increasing the number of MPs would not in any way improve their performance charging that some MPs have failed to deliver to the expectation of the people in their respective constituencies.

“We do not need another bunch of MPs some of whom have failed to deliver to the expectations of their people,’ said headman Monde.

However, some councilors supported they draft constitution calling for an increase in the number of MPs from 150 to 200.

Chibuze councilor Silume Tabani, Moobola councilor Daniel Moono, and Namakube Councilor Japhet Nagalaba argued that increasing the number of MPs would significantly enhance economic development in the country.

They brushed aside suggestions that increasing the number of MPs would be a waste of money saying it was a fact that some constituencies were very large and need to be apportioned to be managed.

“Some constituencies are too large that an area MP, who may be committed with other National duties, may not manage to go round the entire constituency and take note of developmental concerns of the people there,” Mr Tabani said.

“That is why some MPs may not have lived up to the expectations of the people in their constituencies not because they are incompetent, but it is because there areas are too large,” he added.

Meanwhile, chief Nalubamba says for the country to uphold democratic tenets there was need to fund political parties so that there could be a level playing field. He added this was the only way the country could enhance its democracy still in its infancy.

He said there was need to financially support political parties to ensure transparence and accountability thus allow for the qualitative management of the country’s resources.

Chief Nalubamba allayed fears that the country might experience a mushrooming of political parties arguing no sane people would form a political party to benefit from the funds other than be of service to the Zambians.

But some headmen had a different view and called for such funds to be channeled to poverty reeducation especially in rural areas.

Headman Makaba said political parties should scout for sources of funding to avoid public resources been wasted in case where such political party loses an election.

He explained that there was a danger that such public resources risk been abused by political parties making accountability difficult.

Voter Apathy

And a Namwala resident Rogers Ndhlovu has says voter apathy in the country would make the proposal in the Mung’omba Draft constitution calling for a 50+ 1per cent unworkable.

He said recent election have indicated that people have lost confidence in politicians adding the proposal would only work if voter apathy was restored in the electorates.

The divergent views emanating from people of all walks of life in all the 150 parliamentary constituencies in the country is a clear indication of people’s desire to have a people-driven constitution that would be legitimate and popular. This has made people to identify themselves with the constitution to actively participate in the making of the final product of their desire. This approach would undoubtedly make the new constitution the most legitimate and be accepted by all Zambians. 

ENDS/Zambia News & Information Services (ZANIS) ###

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February 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment