Zambia: "No good governance without traditional rulers"

There can never be good governance without traditional rulers' participation, said senior chief Bright Nalubamba of the Ila people in Namwala yesterday.

And senior chieftainess Nkomeshya of the Soli people of Lusaka said the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) council of traditional rulers were lobbying for representation on the African Union and on the African Commission for Human Rights and People's rights.

Speaking to journalists at Lusaka International Airport where four traditional rulers - senior chief Inyambo Yeta of Mwandi, senior chief Ishindi of Zambezi, senior chieftainess Nkomeshya, senior chief Nalubamba - called for review of the constitution or the Statutory Instruments to give powers to the House of Chiefs before its formation.

He warned that if the House of Chiefs was formed under the current system and laws, it would be toothless. "We want a House of Chiefs which will be effective, we want to speak on behalf of our people effectively," chief Nalubamba said.

"Good governance cannot be good governance without participation of traditional rulers." He said the formation of the House of Chiefs needed a lot of support from all the Zambians. Chief Ishindi said there was no need for traditional rulers to start fighting government over the formation of the House of Chiefs. He called for the speedy formation of the House of Chiefs.

"They are actually delaying the process, they have money to buy cars for the ministers but they are claiming that there is no money for the House of Chiefs," he said.

Chief Ishindi said the traditional rulers were deliberately being denied an opportunity to participate in the governance of the country. Chieftainess Nkomeshya said the SADC council of traditional rulers who met in South Africa last week resolved to seek representation on the African Union and on the African Commission for Human Rights and People's rights.

She said some traditional rulers from Zimbabwe and South Africa would attend the African Union Heads of State Summit in Maputo in July to lobby for their representation on the AU.
"We feel that the traditional institution must be given a voice in African Union and that particular commission," said chieftainess Nkomeshya. The SADC council of traditional leaders whose aim is to spearhead the role of traditional leaders in the development and governance processes of their respective countries met at Pretoria University in South Africa for five days.

Chief Nalubamba said all the SADC countries, apart from Swaziland and Mozambique, were represented at the workshop which was conducted by lecturers from Sweden and Pretoria University. He said the participants appraised themselves on issues of human rights and hoped that more Zambian traditional rulers would participate in such workshops.

"There is a lot to learn, I would encourage that such workshops are conducted even in villages among our headmen. People should participate in the governance of this country," chief Nalubamba said.

Chief Ishindi said traditional rulers needed to move with changing times and should be able to observe the cultural rights of their people. Chief Nalubamba appealed to government to involve traditional rulers in national activities like the African Freedom Day celebrations.

He said this would not only foster relationship between traditional rulers and government but also give the people some strong spirit of patriotism. Chief Nalubamba said people needed to be sensitised about certain activities for them to appreciate their political and cultural evolution.

"If we were involved we were going to get to our people and encourage them," said chief Nalubamba.

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