PARAMOUNT chief Chitimukulu of the Bemba people has told President Edgar Lungu that he declined to meet UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema when the opposition leader sought an appointment with him.
In a video that has gone viral, the Mwinelubemba claimed that he could not meet Hichilema because the opposition alliance, to which the opposition leader belongs, called him a misplaced and wrong chief.
“So, even here I receive every… even yesterday I received Mr Chanda, [from] I think is it PPP or something like that. I always receive, even Mr Hakainde Hichilema. But this time I declined because as opposition alliance they had issued a statement against me, saying the Bembas are being ruled by a misplaced and wrong chief,” Chitimukulu told President Lungu when he paid a courtesy call on him at his palace. “And HH failed to distance himself, whereas hon [Chishimba] Kambwili distanced himself from that statement which was issued by the chairperson (spokesperson James) Lukuku. So, when they wanted to make an appointment, I refused on the ground that I’m a misplaced and wrong chief. So I can’t meet the right people when I’m a wrong chief. On that ground I refused to receive Mr Hakainde Hichilema.”
He earlier said traditional leaders were mandated to be impartial, but work with the government of the day.
“Ba (Mr) President, you know, as traditional leaders we must be impartial. We have got members, our subjects that belong to different parties, political parties. So, as traditional leaders we must be impartial. But we must work with the government of the day,” said Chitimukulu. “We started with the colonial powers, our ancestors worked with them, but there’s always a problem. Even the nationalists said these chiefs are employed by the government. But when UNIP came in power we said, so you are employing us?”
But Hichilema said haters would not break “our love, respect for Chitimukulu.
“We are saddened to learn that some ill-motivated people have provided misleading information to His Royal Highness, the paramount chief Chitimukulu, in an attempt to make him believe that we have previously issued disparaging remarks against him or that we did not distance ourselves from those remarks,” he said, in a statement. “We wish to reiterate our position on this matter by categorically stating that we have no legal or moral desire or other intentions to remove any traditional leader. The United Party for National Development (UPND), outside or inside government, has no intention nor capacity to interfere in the selection, continued reign nor removal of any traditional leadership in this country. We simply have no legal, moral desire or other basis to carry out such a mission.”
Hichilema said in as far as the UPND was concerned, “this is unattainable and well outside our cherished values, virtues and aspirations”. “Our duty is to work with all traditional leaders (headmen, chiefs, paramount chiefs and others in the traditional hierarchy of our nation), and other stakeholders in fostering economic and social development to benefit all our citizens in the whole country regardless of ethnic, religious, political, and other affiliations or artificial boundaries,” he said. “For the record, I as Hakainde Hichilema, have never said or done anything against the Chitimukulu or the Bemba Royal Establishment. As a matter of fact, when the Patriotic Front (PF) was harassing the Chitimukulu with Mr Edgar Lungu as home affairs minister deploying hundreds of police officers to prevent his ascension to the throne, I stood by the Chitimukulu and rendered support to him. History will absolve us on this matter.”
He urged the country to use the time and focus discussion on more serious and pressing issues affecting citizens such as finding solutions to the economic meltdown and the COVID-19 pandemic, “as these do not spare anyone from whatever background or political affiliation”.
“We are aware of the desperation by some of our opponents who have no messages for the masses, other than driving hatred against fellow citizens. Zambians find these misplaced efforts to drive a wedge between citizens, tragic, retrogressive and a danger to national unity,” said Hichilema. “Within the context of our democratic dispensation, it is our duty to jealously guard the peace we have enjoyed as a country since independence, and focus on seeking unity than disunity, love than hate and honesty than unnecessary innuendos. There’s so much work to be done and we, in the UPND, are preoccupied with ways and means of how citizens can put food on their table and send their children to school. We believe that the above response should put to rest this unnecessary digression from critical national issues.”