Foreign Affairs and Tourism Minister, Given Lubinda, has told off Chiefs from Southern Province who are opposed to the unilateral government decision to take away Chirundu and Itezhi-tezhi Districts from Southern Province to Lusaka and Central Province respectively as being “myopic and narrow-minded”.
Appearing on Mobi TV yesterday, Mr Lubinda said those opposed to the decree by President Sata were being “myopic and narrow-minded” and urged them to “start looking at a broader picture” of trying to bring about national development.
“Traditional leaders have never been above political boundaries and will not cease being Chiefs even if they appeared under a different province”, Mr. Lubinda said, adding that Chiefs from Southern Province should take a leaf from Senior Chieftainess Nkhomeshya Mukamambo II of Lusaka Province.
He said, “ if you recall, Lusaka Province was created by Dr. Kenneth Kaunda who triangulated it from Central Province. Her Royal Highness Chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamambo II superintended over the people of Central Province. But she now superintends over people of Lusaka” after the creation of Lusaka Province.
He said after the “re-alignment” of the districts, someone who was a chief in Southern Province will still continue being a Chief under Lusaka Province.
Asked if he had Presidential ambitions, Mr. Lubinda said that was mere speculation by some people. His interest was to serve the people of Kabwata where he is a Member of Parliament and the people of Zambia at large. He would leave those who were speculating to do so and he was not going to speculate.
He however said he would leave everything to God’s providence. He said, “ For instance, I did not know that one day I would occupy this important office. This is all by God’s Providence and I will live my life a day at a time”.
Traditional Leaders from Southern Province have opposed the decree by President Sata to dismember Southern Province by “amputating” Chirundu and Itezhi-Tezhi Districts and take them to Lusaka and Central Province under the disguise of facilitating decentralization.
Political analysts suspect that the President is either having ill-motives or grossly misunderstanding decentralization, pointing out that he was being confused as he was when he started transferring mandates of some ministries to suite the capacities of individual ministers instead of appointing suitable Ministers in such Ministries. They argue that what was required was to work on the road networks such as the Batoka Bottom Road and Itezhi-tezhi- Namwala Roads which have been on the drawing board for years instead of tempering with the group socio-economic and cultural rights of the indigenous people of Chirundu and Itezyi-tezhi Districts.
So far, all the Chiefs from Southern Province, with an exception of Chief Mwanachingwala, have resolved to offer solidarity to the affected residents in the two districts by ensuring that the two districts were not transferred to Lusaka and Central Provinces, either for administrative or any other reasons.
Government is said to have agreed to dialogue with the Chiefs so that an amicable solutions would be found. However, an insider claims that the Government was merely buying time and was actually already making inroads in compromising some Chiefs and sowing seeds of divide and rule so that during the multi-stakeholders’ meeting scheduled in the second week of March 2012, serious divisions would emerge that would justify government taking a unilateral decision “in the national interest”.