Chief Mulekatembo of the Nyika people and 15 members of his royal establishment have sued chief Mwene Chifungwe of the Fungwe people in the Lusaka High Court seeking a declaration that the latter is not a traditional leader of the Nyika people and should therefore not involve himself in any affairs of the chiefdom.
The plaintiffs, who have also sued the State, further want chief Mwene Chifungwe to relocate from their area to the Luangwa Valley where his subjects are, as well as a declaration that chief Mukekatembo is eligible for government support both financially and otherwise like any other traditional chief who receives such support from government.
They further want an order that government should place chief Mulekatembo on the government payroll in order to facilitate the easy administration of his chiefdom, costs and any other relief.
Chief Mulekatembo (Mosted Mugala) and 15 others have sued the Attorney General as first defendant and chief Mwene Chifungwe (Wilson Patani Ng’ambi) as the second defendant.
In a statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court, Wednesday, the plaintiffs stated that Mosted Mugala (first plaintiff) was at all material times, chief Mulekatembo of the Nyika people of Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania, adding that he was duly chosen by the Mulekatembo Royal Establishment after which he was installed on August 18, 2018.
“The 15 other plaintiffs were at all material times Zambians and collectively members of the Mulekatembo Royal Establishment belonging to the Matimbwa, Mwanzwa Chitente, Musafili, Kauluka, Muntungwa, Musenga and Katanga royal families,” read the statement of claim.
The plaintiffs stated that the second defendant, Patani, was at all material times chief Mwene Chifungwe of the Fungwe people, but was brought into Nyika by the colonial government for the purpose of helping it to collect poll and hut tax, which chief Mulekatembo was against.
They stated that the poll and hut taxes were abolished after Zambia gained Independence in 1964 and as such, the continued stay of chief Mwene Chifungwe in Nyika was no longer desirable or justified as he had continued to preside over and control the affairs of the Nyika people.
“The plaintiffs will aver at trial that the Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs and the Permanent Secretary for Muchinga Province, being agents of the State have allowed the imposition of chief Mwene Chifungwe from the Chifungwe ethnic group, to superintend over the Nyika people in his capacity as chief and placed him on the government payroll, when in fact he has never been chosen, accepted or installed by the Nyika Royal Electoral College as chief of the Nyika people,” read the statement of claim.
The plaintiffs stated that government through the Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs was fully aware that the Nyika ethic group was different from the Chifungwe ethnic group with different language, traditions, cultures and ceremonies.
They further claimed that Mulekatembo chiefdom had more than 46 villages and all village headmen were Nyikas who paid homage to chief Mulekatembo not chief Mweni Chifungwe.
The plaintiffs charged that chief Mwene Chifungwe’s continued control of the Nyika people was unhealthy and had created friction between the Fungwes and the Nyikas in the area, which if not resolved, may lead to catastrophic consequences as it happened in 2001 when the two ethnic groups physically fought.
“The Nyikas have a right to self-determination in pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, within the confines of Zambia to promote and safeguard their land, traditions, customs and culture,” read the statement of claim.
The plaintiffs now want a declaration that chief Mwene Chifungwe is not a traditional leader of the Nyika people and should not involve himself in any traditional affairs that concern the Nyika people, among other claims.