Tonga body ‘disowns’ Hichilema

The Tonga Traditional Association says it regrets choosing United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema as its patron, noting that his position has highly politicised the Lwiindi Gonde traditional ceremony.

Tonga Traditional Association vice-chairman Bishop Committee Njase said his association is now re-evaluating Mr Hichilema’s position and his role to eliminate politics from the Lwiindi Gonde traditional ceremony.

Bishop Njase said in an interview from Siavonga yesterday that it was a mistake for the Tonga Traditional Association to have asked Mr Hichilema to take up the position of patron after the death of then UPND leader Anderson Mazoka.

The Lwiindi Gonde traditional ceremony has in recent years been turned into a political popularity contest between the UPND, whose leader Mr Hichilema is patron, and the ruling MMD.

There have also been clashes between the association and the organising committee of the Lwiindi ceremony with the two accusing each other for making political mileage from the event.

Last week, the association announced that the Lwiindi Gonde ceremony had been cancelled but Senior Chief Monze dismissed the statement and vowed that the ceremony was going to be held with or without the involvement of the association.

Preparations for the ceremony are now complete with Tonga people from almost all the 11 districts in Southern Province having arrived at the Gonde Shrine in Monze.

Bishop Njase said the association had asked Mr Mazoka to be patron long before he became leader of the UPND and that it was difficult for the Tonga Traditional Association to ask him to step aside after he became UPND president.

Bishop Njase said there has been a lot of political interference in the organisation of the Lwiindi Gonde ceremony because of the involvement of politicians such as Mr Hichilema.

He said the association has noticed with concern that each time Mr Hichilema attends the ceremony, he does so with his cadres to politically intimidate other political leaders.

He observed that the Lwiindi Gonde ceremony is about the most politicised of all traditional ceremonies in the country and warned that the situation has the potential to erode its values.

“We did not think properly when we asked Mr Hichilema to inherit the position of patron from the late Anderson Mazoka. It is wrong for a leader of a political party to be a patron of a traditional association.

“There has been a lot of political interference in the Lwiindi ceremony and we are now reviewing Mr Hichilema’s position because we do not want this to continue,” Bishop Njase said.

He wondered why most of the Tonga traditional ceremonies in Southern Province are often turned into political events where political leaders want to flex their muscle.

He said other traditional ceremonies are held in a friendly atmosphere where the head of state goes to attend and enjoys himself without any clashes between political cadres.

Bishop Njase said traditional ceremonies are not supposed to be events where political leaders raise their party symbols and chant slogans.

Bishop Njase cited the Kuomboka ceremony of the Lozi and the Ncwala of the Ngoni as being among traditional events that do not experience political interference.

He said with the current confusion surrounding the Lwiindi Gonde ceremony, his association has decided to withdraw from the ceremony.

Bishop Njase said in recent years, UPND and MMD cadres have been clashing at the ceremony, a situation that has compelled Government to shun it.
The Lwiindi Gonde traditional ceremony is scheduled to take place today.
Courtesy of Daily Mail

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