PARAMOUNT Chief Mpezeni of the Ngoni Speaking people of Eastern Province was on Sunday forced to cancel a meeting, with Ngonis in Chipangali area of Chipata District.
The traditional leader said he was forced to cancel the meeting because Government had threatened to arrest him and other Ngonis traditional leaders once they attended the meeting.
The paramount chief said he was not happy with the Governments decision to cancel his meeting, which he wanted to hold with his subjects.
He said that Government’s decision to threaten chiefs with arrest is not good, stating that traditional leaders should be left to preside over their affairs.
“This Government has threatened to arrest me and other Ngoni chiefs if I had planned to go ahead with the meeting,” Chief Mpezeni said.When reached for a comment, Eastern Province Deputy Police Commissioner Patrick Bili said police were not notified over the meeting.
On Saturday, Eastern Province Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo warned that anyone who was going to attend the meeting risked being arrested for breaking the Public Order Act.
Mr Kasolo indicated that he had received some intelligence information that the Chewas had mobilized some Nyau dancers to destabilize the meeting, while the Ngoni camp was also geared to fight back.
The Chewas and Ngonis have differed over land that some Ngonis have settled in Chipangali Constituency with both parties claiming ownership.
In 2007, Paramount Chief Mpezeni warned Chewas against evicting Chief Sairi II in Chipangali.But Chief Chinunda of the Chewa People of Chipata District said that the land in question belonged to his chiefdom.
The Chewa traditional leader said in 1952 his grandfather offered the land to Ngonis in his chiefdom after being accused of practicing witchcraft.He said initially, the Ngonis who were accused of practicing witchcraft were first settled in town centre before they were moved to Chipangali to settle in.
“It is there in the National Archives that there is no Chief Sairi II in Chipangali and those Ngonis who are staying they are staying in my chiefdom,” Chief Chinunda said.
He said the Chewas had mobilized to ensure that the meeting which was arranged at Dwankhonzi was disturbed as part of showing displeasure to the Government over the disputed land.
According to the notice of the meeting by Mickwell Kachingwe Zulu who is Ephendukeni Palace Secretary, the paramount chief was scheduled to meet all his subjects of Chipangali area on 14th June 2015 starting from 08:30 hours at Dwankonzi Secondary School along Chipata-Lundazi road.
“Inkhosi ya Mankhosi Paramount Chief Mpezeni will hold a very special meeting with all his subjects of Chipangali area on 14th June 2015.The meeting will take place at Dwankhonzi Secondary School along Chipata-Lundazi road starting at 08:30 hours, “the letter read in part.