A traditional leader in Kapiri Mposhi District has welcomed government’s resolve to revise the Witchcraft Act to make it more current and applicable to the prevailing social and cultural conditions in the country.
Chief Nkole of the Swaka speaking people told ZANIS that amendments to the Witchcraft Act were long overdue because it was an old law which was imposed by the colonial masters on Zambians.
He stated that the Act should be revised to take into consideration the role of traditional leaders in resolving witchcraft cases in their respective chiefdoms in the country.
The traditional leader said the law which was passed in 1914 was still being used despite Zambia gaining her independence 50 years ago adding that the piece of legislation was inconsistent with several social and cultural settings and practices in the country.
“The revision of the Witchcraft Act should have been done just after the country gained independence in 1964 because most of its content is not permissible to the current human rights society that we are living in today… this law was basically a law enacted by the whites to dehumanize Africans”, Chief Nkole said.
Chief Nkole further observed that the Witchcraft Act of 1914 does not recognize the significant role of traditional leaders in handling and resolving witchcraft cases in their jurisdictions but imposes penalties against them ranging from a fine to a maximum three-year imprisonment if believed to encourage witchcraft in their areas.
He hoped that once revised, the Act will provide clear and documented guidelines to their royal highnesses and empower them to handle witchcraft cases in the country.
“Traditional leaders should be given roles with regards to the amicable determination of witchcraft cases in their territories because they understand these issues amongst their subjects therefore the revised Act should provide us with clear guidelines and powers to do so,” Chief Nkole said.
Chief Nkole stated that traditional leaders that include Chiefs and headmen currently do not have any standard guidelines and authority to administer witchcraft cases even though they are on a daily basis confronted with witchcraft cases which are widespread in the rural areas.
Government through the Zambia Law Development Commission is revising the Witchcraft Act Cap 90 of the Laws of Zambia.
And speaking in an interview with ZANIS Zambia Law Development Commission Research Officer Otema Musuka said the Commission was going round the country to obtain submissions from traditional leaders on the matter.
He said the Witchcraft Act which provides for penalties against the practice of witchcraft and for matters incidental to or connected with witchcraft has never undergone major revision since its enactment in 1914 by the colonial government.