National Assembly Bill 10 of 2019: A Challenge of loyalty between politics and tradition

The Presentation of the Budget in Parliament

By Dr. Henry Kanyanta Sosala

Their Majesties, the Litunga, Kalonga Gwawa Undi, Nkosi yama Nkosi Mpezeni and Mwinelubemba Chitimukulu Kanyanta-Manga II have been meeting for the past few months to discuss various national issues. And it was observed that their active participation in the national affairs of our nation would only be effective if their role was spelled out in the Constitution and this could therefore be done by the insertion of the following new clauses in Bill 10/2019 i.e., after clause 58 on page 18 and after line 27:
59. The Constitution is amended by the insertion of the following new Article
immediately after Article 168.
168A (1) There is to be established a Council of Paramount Chiefs.
(2) The Council of Paramount Chiefs shall consist of the Litunga, Kalonga
Gawa Undi, Nkosi yama Nkosi Mpezeni and Mwinelubemba Chitimukulu

(3) The members of the Council of Paramount Chiefs shall elect a Chairperson
And a Vice-Chairperson every five years from among themselves.

(4) The functions of the Council of Paramount Chiefs are to provide advice to
The President and the House of Chiefs as prescribed.

The challenge here lies among UPND Members of Parliament from Western Province, who according to their party’s directive are opposing Bill 10 and have been instructed to immediately walk out of Parliament whenever the Bill is tabled. And therefore in this respect, every Honourable Member of Parliament will have to decide whether to be loyal or show allegiance to politics or tradition! In essence, this actually means, they have to choose to be loyal either to Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, the UPND President or to His Majesty King of Barotseland, the Litunga (who is honoured and distinguished with the supreme title of Litunga i.e., earth and owner of the land).

King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:9: ‘’What has happened before will happen again. What has been done before will be done again.’’ Hence the saying: ‘’a driver who does not use a mirror to look back will one day make a fatal accident.’’ It is also said that the world is three days, i.e., yesterday, to-day and tomorrow. And if you do not know yesterday, then you won’t know what day today is and certainly tomorrow will take you by surprise.

In his paper, Barotseland: The Secessionist Challenge to Zambia, Gerald Caplan wrote: ‘’… in 1963, the UNIP-ANC coalition government initiated reforms in the Barotse Government. Mwanawina was informed that the Katengo, one of the traditional councils of Lozi Government was to be an elected body. The results gave UNIP, a victory exceeding its own most optimistic predictions. They collectively gained 84 per cent of 25,000 votes cast…….. and thereafter when a Lozi delegation met representatives of the central Government, the traditional contingent predictably argued that, if Barotseland were to remain part of Zambia at all, it must be on the condition of virtually complete local autonomy. Less expected was the support this stand received from the delegate’s elected Katengo councilors, all of course UNIP members. Attempting to be both Lozi patriots and Zambian nationalists, they differed from the Litunga’s appointees only in degree, not in kind. They wished to remain ‘part and parcel of Zambia’, but with Barotseland’s special status left intact.’’

We have to realize that tradition has a much longer span of life than politics. And besides, traditional rulers stand on a superior moral ground than politicians. A English man Walter Begehat was quoted in the book, Studies in African Politics to have said: ‘’Royalty (tradition) is a government in which the attention is concentrated in one person doing interesting actions. A Republic (politics) is a government in which that attention is divided among many, who are doing interesting actions. Accordingly, so long as the human heart is strong and human reason weak, Royalty (tradition) will be stronger because it appeals to diffused feelings and Republic (politics) weak because it appeals to the understanding.’’ During the 2014 Easter commemoration, a Catholic priest, Father Charles Chilinda in his sermon said, ‘’…but like in all political spheres, power is femoral, transient and short-lived as well as delusional because reality often catches up with an unexpected vengeance.’’

We have to understand that a ‘’stand’’ is not necessarily a point of view. Taking a ’’position’’ requires us to choose to either for or against a certain issue, but taking a ‘’stand’’ recognizes all points of view and allows each one to exist and be heard. There is therefore a difference between taking a ‘’position’’ and taking a ‘’stand.’’

Mr. Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe (the most famous and highly respected Bemba political hero) and Mr .Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba are the names that are etched in our archives among the principled Bemba politicians of conscience. Mr. Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe resigned as Zambia’s Republican Vice-President because ‘’The people from Northern part of Zambia, the Bemba-speaking people have suffered physically and sometimes been beaten. They have suffered demotions and suspensions because of my being Vice-President. I cannot sacrifice any longer these people. If such activities continue, they would lead to difficulties in the nation. I, therefore, refuse to be part and parcel of any bloodshed that may be the result of self-aggrandizement.’’

Mr. Mwamba had risked his own life besides his businesses by standing on the principle of being loyal not only to me personally but to the Bemba people and tribe. Mr. Mwamba being a member of the Bemba royal family failed to betray his tribe for the sake of money and position. In fact before Mr. Mwamba had paid a courtesy call on me in Kasama, he even took a precaution step by inviting two officers from the Office of the President to monitor our meeting. But President Sata later censured him ‘’for failing to show collective responsibility on his part as a Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament for the ruling party.’’ (The Post 24th December 2013).

And defiance Mr. Mwamba resigned as Defence Minister: ‘’ …it’s important for Zambians to know that I hail from the Bemba royal family and it is therefore unacceptable for President Sata to stop me from visiting my grandfather. There is no way I am going to forsake my own blood for the sake of politics. So for me as GBM, I am sorry. I am a very principled person and I resign from government.’’

‘’Collective responsibility’’ in this respect meant that Mr. Mwamba would have forsaken his cultural heritage for the sake of being a Cabinet Minister and PF member of Parliament! The Honourable Members of Parliament from Western Province are in the same predicament of ‘’collective responsibility’’ as members of UPND.

And whatever decision the Honourable Members of UPND will ever take will be etched in the archives of Lozi political history, just as we remember the heroic decision to stand for tradition by the members of the Katengo, inspite of being UNIP members, way back in 1963.