Treat political leaders equally-Lungu prods ChiefS


PRESIDENT Lungu has appealed to the traditional leadership in the country to avoid discriminating against political party leaders but allow them to freely campaign in their chiefdoms as the country goes to the general elections in August.

President Lungu has maintained that he did not want to be the reason for political violence in the country and all political parties participating should be allowed to campaign without being stifled.

President Lungu said traditional leaders should also avoid the temptation of coercing their subjects into voting for candidates they did not want because such acts could easily disenfranchise their subjects.

The Head of State said he did not want Patriotic Front (PF) cadres or members of any political party to declare any part of Zambia a no-go-area because all political leaders had the right to conduct their political campaigns anywhere without any form of hindrance.

The Head of State said his desire was to preside over a country that would remain peaceful and united even in the most heated campaign times because only then would democracy said to be practiced.

Speaking when 25 traditional leaders from Northern Province paid a courtesy call on him at State House yesterday, the President said he had been informed that some parts of the country had been declared no-go-areas for certain political parties in the country.

“We are in an election period and as our traditional leaders, you should receive all of us, politicians, in the same way and treat us as equal competitors. You should allow your subjects chose their leaders freely without imposing your choices on them. The way you are going to receive me should be the same way you are going to receive other political leaders participating in this election. I have been told that some parts of the country have been declared no-go-areas for certain political parties, but I want to maintain that I do not want to hear that cadres are beating other citizens after I have visited the area and have left,” President Lungu said.

And President Lungu said he was happy that the amended Constitution had removed powers for the President to recognize or influence the selection of chiefs in the country.

President Lungu said in the past, there had been accusations that some people were selected as chiefs because they were deemed to be politically correct.

He said some of the traditional leaders were appointed on the basis of their relationship with the existing political leadership despite them not qualifying to be chiefs.

The President said the appointment of chiefs was not the sole responsibility of the traditional leadership working with the House of Chiefs and dispelled the notion that the removal of the powers from the presidency to recognize chiefs was meant to dilute and ignore the traditional governance.

“I am glad that the powers to recognize a chief have been removed from the Constitution and the challenge is now upon our traditional; leaders to work together. In the past we were accused recognizing chiefs who were politically correct but now the President cannot recognize a chief by statute,” President Lungu said.

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