THE Lunda-Mbunda Royal Establishment (MRE) says it is in “deep shock” to learn that Government has de-gazetted Chief Chiengele of the Mbunda-speaking people of Limulunga district of Western Province over his dispute with the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE), although the matter was still in court.
Chief Chiengele sued the BRE in the Lusaka High Court after the BRE dethroned him about six months ago for alleged insubordination and the matter is before Justice Mwila Chitabo.
Late last year, the Barotse Royal Establishment dethroned the former chief Chiengele and his entire Kuta of the Mbunda people in Limulunga district for allegedly being disloyal to the Litunga by raising himself to the level of a king.
Chief Chiengele rejected the move and filed an injunction in the High Court which was granted on 19 December, 2014 and the case was due to come up for trial on August 6, 2015.
“Having considered the conflicting affidavit evidence and the American Cynamid, the court should not embark on anything resembling of a trial of action on conflicting affidavits.
It is the view of this court that such matters should be brought to strict proof at trial. Therefore, to maintain the status quo, I order that the Ex-parte Order for injunction be made interlocutory pending determination of the matter. Leave to appeal to the Supreme Court is granted,” Justice Chitabo ruled.
However, on 5th June, 2015 Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs Permanent Secretary Michael Pwete wrote to the office of the permanent secretary of Western Province, instructing the provincial leadership that Josiah Mubukwanu Litia Nyumbu was no longer recognized as Chief Chiengele.
“I wish to inform you that His Excellence, Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia has, through Statutory Instrument No. 29 of 2015 withdrawn the recognition of Mr. Josiah Mubukwanu Litia Nyumbu as Chief Chiengele of the Lozi people of Mongu District with immediate effect. This follows the declaration by the Litunga of Western Province, Lubosi Imwiko II dismissing Mr. Josiah Mubukwanu Litia Nyumbu as Chief Chiengele,” the letter read in part.
On June 10, 2015, Acting Western Province Chiefs and Traditional Affairs officer Akashowelelwa Mutaba wrote to the traditional leader instructing him that he was no longer recognized as a chief. The letter was accompanied by SI number 29 of 2015 from the Office of the President.
According to a statement signed by MRE Spokesperson Kennedy Mubanga and made available to the Daily Nation yesterday, the establishment said it did not understand why the Head of State could sign the SI when the issue was not concluded by the courts.
The MRE said the Mbunda population was deeply disturbed by the turn of events in the case considering that President Lungu had degazetted their traditional leader before the issue could be concluded.
“The Mbunda Royal Establishment is in a deep sense of shock to learn that our Republican President His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu has issued a Statutory Instrument number 29 of 2015 dated 29th May, 2015 withdrawing the recognition of Josiah Mubukwanu Litia Nyumbu as Chief Chiengele despite public information that matters surrounding the Litunga’s purported dethronement of Chief Chiengele are active in both the High Court and the Supreme Court of Zambia for determination,” read the statement.
The MRE charged that the continued harassment of its traditional leader was a deliberate move aimed at making Mbundas rise against the PF Government.
“The appointment of a Lozi as Republican Vice-President was not well received by Mbundas due to the historical biasness of the Lozis against Mbundas,” the statement read in part.
And when contacted for a comment on whether he had received notice of his being degazetted early this week, Chief Chiengele confirmed receiving the letter but said he was not surprised by the development going by the tension surrounding tribal groupings in Western Province, and said that anything was possible.
The chief said there were a lot of issues that could unfold over his dethronement by the BRE, but that he could not comment any further because the matter was still in the courts of law.