President Edgar Lungu today reminded the House of Chiefs that traditional leaders now have the mandate to make recommendations to local authorities regarding the welfare of communities, and that government no longer has the powers to recognise or withdraw the recognition of chiefs.

Speaking when he officially opened the fifth session of the House of Chiefs in Lusaka today, President Lungu urged the traditional leaders to take advantage of the constitutional provisions governing the chieftaincy and to start making proposals that will promote social-economic development in their areas.

“Let me begin by bringing to the attention of Your Royal Highnesses that following the amendment of the Constitution which I assented to on 5th January 2016, the scope of the House of Chiefs has been broadened and so are the provisions governing the institution of chieftaincy in general. With this development, the House of Chiefs can now make recommendations to local authorities regarding the welfare of communities, and to the national assembly on social-economic development in provinces. The House of Chiefs should therefore take advantage of these provisions to make proposals that will promote social-economic development in chiefdoms,” President Lungu said.

“Following constitutional amendments, it is no longer within government’s jurisdiction to issue any statutory instruments to recognize them or withdraw their recognition. The removal of this provision from the Constitution was not in any way intended to trigger the proliferation of chiefdoms. I therefore urge the house of chiefs to seriously look into the matter and draft guidelines to regulate the institution of chieftaincy.”

He advised chiefs to draft guidelines which would help regulate themselves to prevent succession conflicts and possible mushrooming of chiefdoms within existing chiefdoms.

“Your Royal Highnesses, I am saddened by the increasing number of succession disputes in some of our chiefdoms. I wish to implore the House of Chiefs to take keen interest in finding a lasting solution to this challenge. We should not jeopardise our country’s impeccable record of peace and stability. Chiefdoms are the foundation of our country’s peace and tranquility hence the need to ensure their stability. One of the ways to minimize succession disputes is for chiefdoms to prepare indisputable family trees which must be submitted to the Ministry of Chiefs and traditional Affairs. This will help determine the rightful heir to the throne in case of disputes,” he said.

President Edgar Lungu opens the fifth session of the House of Chiefs

The Head of State further called for an end to child marriages.

“In responding to the issue of violence against children, particularly early, forced and child marriage, my government embarked on a campaign to end child marriage in 2013. The campaign envisages “A Zambia free from child marriage by 2013.” Our goal is to achieve 40 percent reduction in child marriage by 2021,” President Lungu said.

“I am happy to note that some chiefdoms have started recording positive results in the fight, with child marriage occurrence reducing to as low as 2 percent.”

And President Lungu explained why government made the decision to review the subsidies for chiefs and wages for retainers.

“Your Royal Highnesses, subsidies for chiefs and wages for retainers have been stagnant for a long time. Chiefs play an important role in national development hence government’s decision to review the subsidies. Similarly, the need for retainers’ wages to be increased could not be ignored, as retainers are the aides to your Royal Highnesses,” He said.

He also urged traditional leaders not to abuse the role of being custodians of land by selling it to foreign nationals.

“Allow me to bring to your attention the unfortunate practices by some traditional leaders who are illegally selling huge tracks of land to foreigners at the expense of Zambians. Although our Royal Highnesses are custodians of land, they should not abuse this role but preserve our God-given inheritance. The land Act which is being drafted will be able to address some of these challenges,” said President Lungu.