I disagree with the former Luangeni MP Angela Cifire’s statement that Eastern Province permanent secretary Chanda Kasolo and Inspector General of Police Stella Libongani exhibited gross unprofessional conduct in the manner they recently cancelled Chief Mpezeni’s meeting in Chipangali area.
Zambia’s Interior Minister Davis Mwila, House of Chiefs chairperson and the police chief ought to have travelled to the eastern town of Chipata, where the police tear gassing occurred.
The cancelled meeting was the latest in a long dispute between two rival groups. Security forces have struggled in the past to prevent the near punch-upscuffles in Chipangali.
With elections due next year in Zambia, there are calls for the local chiefs’ tiffs to be addressed more urgently in order to ensure peaceful polls. The country may have a reputation for peace but the news from Chipangali is of hatred and potential violence.
There are deep fears that a long-standing chieftaincy dispute between two ethnic groups, the Ngoni and the Chewa, may spiral out of control despite preventive measures by the Police Service.
There are a number of other chieftaincy disputes in Zambia which have yet to be resolved. Next year, 2016 being an election year makes the situation even more volatile. Unless the government tackles the disputes with more urgency Zambia has a great deal to lose.
It will take back the credibility we have earned since 1991 in the nurturingof a democratic system that is beginning to be admired by many nations.
So for peace-loving Zambians, dealing with these traditional conflicts becomes a national priority.
Admittedly, Zambians are proud of what is a relatively peaceful country. But the news of chiefs’ land rows and their ethnic superiority complex in Eastern, North-Western and Western Provinces is for some people a sign that the peace should not be taken for granted.
The example of what’s happening in Burundi proves that a reputation for stability can all too easily be shattered.