CHIEF Machiya of the Lamba people of Mpongwe says the constitutional requirement that councillors must possess grade 12 certificates is not attainable in rural areas.
Speaking at his palace on Saturday when Deputy Minister of Works and Supply Mutaba Mwali paid him a courtesy call, Chief Machiya said Government must revisit that clause in the Constitution.
He said most people in rural areas are not that educated, but are quite knowledgeable and could make good councillors.
“This move will be very unfair on the local people. Government must seriously look into it because it will not work,” Chief Machiya said.
He said the grade 12 requirement will disadvantage local people from contesting council seats, but will instead attract the participation of urban dwellers who know very little about the needs of the local people.
“As you may be aware, schools came very late in the rural areas and most people do not have these qualifications. Those who may be qualified have probably relocated to big towns,” Chief Machiya said.
He also appealed to the Electoral Commission of Zambia to reconsider the K1,500 nomination fee for aspiring councillors because it is too high for people. Chief Machiya said most people in rural communities are peasants who cannot afford to pay the revised fees.
And the traditional leader assured President Lungu that he and other Lamba chiefs will continue working with the Patriotic Front government.
Chief Machiya said he wants to help President Lungu win this year’s general elections but that Government needs to fulfil its promises to the people.
He said the local people want Government to work on the 130km-long Mpongwe-Machiya road.
“We want this road to be done because it is long overdue. Once it’s done, I can assure you of 100 percent support from all the chiefs here,” Chief Machiya said.
Responding to the chief, Dr Mwali acknowledged that the grade 12 certificate requirement for councillors will be a challenge in most rural communities, but that Government delivered a constitution which people had been crying for.
On the road, he said the project is currently at procurement stage and the Road Development Agency will select a contractor before the end of next month.