Senior Chief Madzimawe of the Ngoni people of Chipata has cautioned the UPND against rejecting the committee that has been constituted to lead the national dialogue process before giving it an opportunity to work.

And Senior Chief Madzimawe says teen pregnancies and child labour are the biggest contributing factors to early child marriages, and has explained that his Chiefdom is working with parents to curb the vice.

Last week, ZCID established a committee of local eminent persons comprising House of Chiefs Chairperson Chief Ngabwe; Senior Chief Madzimawe of the Ngoni people of Chipata; Zambian politician and businessman Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika and former FDD vice-president Chifumu Banda to lead the national political dialogue.

But the opposition UPPND, through Spokesperson Charles Kakoma, said his party would not participate in any dialogue process that is associated with ZCID.

Commenting on the matter in an interview with News Diggers, Senior Chief Madzimawe said it was not right for the opposition party to reject the committee before having a feel of it’s capability to lead the dialogue process.

“Anything that comes our way, we have to face it with a positive mind. I am not going there with a preconceived mind, as to what am going to do. We are merely a team which is needed to help those that cannot agree with certain things. So our role will depend on the cooperation that we will get from the players. When you are a referee, you would need each and every player’s contribution. So we as members of the committee are not going in there with something huge, but we will cross the bridge when we get there. So, it’s a matter of looking at it from the position that if it is within the mandate of the board of ZCID to bring what they are calling ‘eminent persons’ then I believe that all of us, more especially the political players, should have given us chance to see whether we are going to perform according to their aspirations or not. So you don’t just shy away from outside, you should go in and see what is inside,” Senior Chief Madzimawe said.

“I don’t think it is okay for the opposition to say that they don’t have confidence in us when they haven’t tested the process. We are yet to go in and possibly there is still room for those who are skeptical about this committee to just think about it and come join. So we are not going in there with gloves. We are going in there to guide the process. So as for whatever is being said politically, I think I need to be excused from that because I don’t need to be seen as if I am also talking part in politics. I would rather focus on what is before me, which is to be part of this committee that is leading the process.”

Meanwhile, Senior Chief Madzimawe who was recently awarded by President Edgar Lungu for his commitment to the fight against early child marriages, said he was working together with his subjects and parents to educate children about sexuality.

“The challenge of child marriages does not only involve girls. It’s a double-aged sword which involves both girls and boys. The trend at which older people used to marry young ones has really gone down and what now drives child marriages firstly is teen pregnancies. If children are not in school then after getting pregnant, definitely what will follow is a marriage involving minors. Usually you would find the boy is 17 years old and the girl is 14 years old. So what we are doing in my Chiefdom now is that we are advocating for adolescents to be in school. Because it is as a result of not being in school that they are falling prey to such problems,” said Senior Chief Madzimawe.

“Child labour is also contributing, more especially girl children. Because they need a bottle of lotion, so they go to work for these things and then they are paid these essentials. So our programme focuses on making sure that they go to school. For those that I have tried to bring back to school, I even use my personal resources and these essentials when funds permit so that children should focus purely on education. Then we are now focusing on engaging parents to develop that relationship with their adolescent children. They need to get to talk, talk about sexuality matter with their older children so that they understand the implications in an event that they indulge in such things,” Senior Chief Madzimawe.