NINENTEEN (19) Luapula Province chiefs who converged at Henry Courtyard in Mansa on Thursday to dissociate themselves from issuing pro-Harry Kalaba comments were ‘forced’ to do so by State House using provincial minister Nickson Chilangwa, a reliable source has disclosed.
On Tuesday, The Mast reported that chiefs in Luapula Province said no one should force Kalaba to resign as Bahati PF member of parliament on account of his recent resignation as a foreign affairs minister.
Following his resignation on January 2, Kalaba has been challenged by some PF officials to resign as a member of parliament and leave the ruling party.
But Luapula Province Chiefs Council chairperson senior chief Mwewa of the Ng’umbo people of Samfya district said Kalaba should not be antagonised by anyone, especially on matters related to his ministerial resignation.
“Icho ningalanda chakweba ati ba Honourable Kalaba bapelwefye chilya chifulo chabu minister. (What I can say is that Honourable Kalaba was just appointed to that ministerial position). But it is us who elected him as a member of parliament and it is us he is serving. He can choose to resign from a ministerial position and at the same time, he can choose to remain as a minister. Is it the President who said that when you resign it will be like this or that? I believe Honourable Kalaba chose to resign and let it be so,”
senior chief Mwewa, who spoke in Bemba, said when Kalaba paid a courtesy call on him at his palace in Samfya on Sunday afternoon, January 21.
“However, let him (Kalaba) continue to represent us his electorates. Let him not desert us – he needs to continue speaking on behalf of his electorates and continue lobbying for more development [in Bahati constituency]. We have not seen any worthwhile development here in Luapula that we can talk about! That’s why we are saying Honourable Kalaba should at least continue representing Bahati constituency. Yes, he chose to resign as foreign minister but no one can and should force him out as a member of parliament.”
But on Thursday, the Luapula Province Chiefs Council refuted the statement attributed to senior chief Mwewa.
“The Luapula Province Chiefs Council at no time did it meet and resolve to issue that false statement. The Luapula Province Chiefs Council further warns that in future, the chiefs will deny audiences in their palaces to malicious media houses and individuals to avoid the embarrassment as experienced in the present situation,”
read the statement in part that was signed by senior chief Mwewa and the secretary of the Luapula Province Chiefs Council, chief Chisunka.
But a source in Mansa narrated that the traditional leaders were merely forced to convene in the provincial capital and sign a statement distancing themselves from Kalaba.
“That statement was [allegedly] written by Nickson Chilangwa (Luapula Province minister). The minister ordered that the chiefs be ferried from their palaces to Henry Courtyard for a meeting. They were 19 chiefs in total and the provincial minister did that because he felt that what the chiefs said when Harry Kalaba came here over the weekend embarrassed Edgar Lungu. Actually, the chiefs in attendance were paid K10, 000 each,”
said the source.
“The chiefs complained bitterly that they were literally forced to sign and read the statement. If you saw, they even brought their media ba ZANIS. So, fyakubikwafye amashiwi mukanwa. (They just put words in their mouths). Takwaba ati umuntu afuma pali bu minister ayita bashamfumu bonse mu province ati kaneni. It’s wrong. (There is no way a minister can summon chiefs in the province and tell them to refute a story!”