Our response to the State’s interference in the Bemba traditional and chiefs’ affairs.
We have observed with grave concern the manner in which the state has continued in the directly interfere the Bemba traditional and chiefs’ affairs.
The specific case in point relate to the recent events concerning Senior Nkula of Chinsali District of Muchinga Province and Senior Chief Mwamba of Kasama District of Northern Province respectively. I will not refer to the Chitimukulu Paramouncy because as a people we are still in mourning as the body of the late Chitimukulu is still lying in state.
The clear interference begun when the President at an event in Kabwe in 2012 ordered the then Inspector General of Police Dr. Martin Malama go travel to Chinsali and forcibly remove Maxwell Kafula Mucheleka from the throne of Senior Chief Nkula. According to the President, said Mucheleka was posing as Chief Nkula when he was not.
The Presidential recognition of chiefs Chewe and Chimbuka respectively in Chinsali District of Muchinga Province without any regard to the Bemba tradition and procedures is certainly unacceptable and thus be withdrawn immediately. With regard to Chewe who is supposed to come from Ngoshe Mukote lineage, you may wish to that this family lost their rights when they were banished in 1895 by the Chitimukulu Mutale Chitampakwa the first, reason being that they chose to look after their hunting dogs instead of their people. You cannot therefore bring back in 2013 an issue that was dealt with more than 120 years ago. As if that is not enough you think you can even skim to install the same Chief Chewe. It is therefore absurd to even contemplate to impose Chief Chewe as Senior Chief Nkula and later as Paramount Chief Chitimukulu. This is certainly wishful thinking and would be vigorously resisted and stopped by the Bemba people and all persons of good will who respect the Bemba traditional values and beliefs.
The recent act of the government to unceremoniously degazzete and withhold his monthly subsidy cannot go without comment. You all may wish to know that the current Senior Chief Mwamba whose names are Henry Kanyanta Sosala, was first appointed as Chief Mpepo in Mpika district by the late Mwinelubemba Chitimukulu Chitapankwa the second sitting in Council with the Bashilubemba in 1997. The position of Chief Mpepo is the genesis of the Abenang’andu ruling clan.
With regard to Henry Kanyanta Sosala, there were of course a number of events and compelling reasons at the time, which made it not possible for him to first occupy the position of Chief Nkolenfumu before he became Chief Mwamba. The main reason however was again the interference of the then MMD government in the affairs of the Bemba chieftanancy.
You need to be aware that both the colonial and post colonial governments always had the appetite and desire to weaken the Bemba as a people by openly interfering in the appointment or removal of our Chiefs. Be informed that the Bemba people and their Chiefs have remained resolute and resisted such attempts.
During the colonial period however, the government would set up a commission of enquiry to deal with Bemba traditional issues in cases where they were not very sure on how to deal with a particular issue. This further helped to deal with disputes concerning contesting parties to various positions. This helped to help resolve disputes even among contesting parties. There are so many examples of that nature which I may not give now unless you want to give you a very detailed historical picture, for which I am prepared to take you.
You may which to know that the first attempt to directly interfere and engineer the removal of a Chief was made by the then UNIP government. In 1976 the then President Dr. Kenneth Kaunda removed and degazzeted Dickson Mutale Chitabanta from the position of Senior Chief Nkula. The Bemba people rose up and stood in solidarity with their Chief until Dr. Kaunda was forced to appoint a commission of enquiry, which cleared the Chief of all politically motivated allegations. The Chief was reinstated as Senior Chief Nkula until he died of natural cause in 1983.
When MMD came to power in 1991, during the reign of Chitimukulu Mutale Chitapankwa the second, Chitimukulu number 36, he too was at the receiving end with direct interference and undermining by the then MMD government. The then MMD government made several attempts to undermine and neutralize the traditional authority and influence of the Bemba chiefs. This was especially so given that then Chitimukulu was perceived to be too UNIP as he had once served as a Member of the Central Committee (MCC) the UNIP one party rule. The Bemba Royal Establishment resisted all the attempts and maneuvers to be undermined.
You may wish to know that both President Sata and Minister Nkandu Luo were still senior cabinet Ministers in the MMD government.
I believe the two clearly and understand what transpired with regard to the clear attempts to weaken the Bemba people and that project lamentably failed.
You will recall that in 2011, when other Chiefs across Zambia were being paraded to endorse the third term bid for the late President Chiluba, the Bemba Royal Establishment was the first if not the only one to clearly and categorically denounce the 3rd Term. This project soon after collapsed. Be assured that we have the resilience and will again surely rise to the occasion at an appropriate time.
Senior Chief Shimumbi of Luwingu District:
Meanwhile the government is well aware of a man who has been masquerading as Senior Chief Shimumbi of Luwingu district. Despite the representation that has been made by the appropriate Bemba authorities to correct the erroneous appointment and recognition of the said Chief, we have observed that the government has been very reluctant to degazzete the man who continues to masquerade as Senior Chief Shimumbi in Luwingu district of Northern Province.
We therefore wish to call upon all Bemba people and other people of goodwill to stand up in solidarity with our chiefs, Bashilubemba and the Bemba people during this difficult and trying moment. This is especially that we are still mourning our late Chief Chitimukulu Mwinelubemba Chilufya Chyamata Yabili the Second, Chitimukulu number 37. I further call upon this government to stay away from negative interference in the Chiefs affairs. Leave these matters to competent traditional authorities with regard to who shall be the next Chitimukulu. You shall certainly be communicated to through the appropriate channels. Our prayer is that you will be expected to act accordingly.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you for your attention and have a blessed day!!
Hon. Patrick Mucheleka, MP
Member of the Bemba Royal Family