Chief Chikanta of Kalomo District has called for the withdrawal of Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019 so that the process can be re-started with adequate consultation.
And chief Chikanta has lamented that no member of parliament has so far bothered to sensitize constituents in the entire Southern Province on Bill 10.
Meanwhile, the traditional leader has insisted that government needs international assistance to tackle the hunger situation because it does not have the capacity to feed everyone who is affected.
Speaking when he featured on Byta FM’s Hot Potato programme in Choma, Monday, chief Chikanta, who is also Southern Province Council of Chiefs Chairperson, said Bill 10 had been rejected because of a lack of adequate consultation in its initial stages.
“You see, it is dealing with people so that’s why we are saying that even if we intend to do that, but without consulting the people, especially in the grassroots in the constituencies or chiefdoms where we are, it will be unfair! You must have their voice to declare the country as a Christian nation. So, we are saying, it’s not only that which affects chiefdoms or people in the rural areas, it’s a lot more provisions in Bill 10. I can’t speak as chairperson, but I can speak as chief Chikanta, my feelings. We have listened to what people are saying, both opposition and ruling party and independents and everywhere like two days ago, there was a debate but when you listen to the people you are able to say, ‘the people are rejecting this!’ So, for me, I think it is better to withdraw that Bill number 10. Speaking as chief Chikanta, I say it will be better for the country to withdraw that Bill. Whether it’s the President or the Minister of Justice, who has got the powers to withdraw, it’s better to withdraw so that we start afresh, so that we look into all those issues critically and effectively,” chief Chikanta said.
“The best way to go about it, initially before it even goes to Parliament, there is supposed to be adequate consultation because if you consult adequately in the initial stages, there will be no need for you to bring it back after it has gone to up Parliament. This Bill 10 has come back because there was no national consensus in the initial stages.”
And chief Chikanta complained that no member of parliament had bothered to sensitize constituents in Southern Province.
“A Constitution is different from a Parliamentary Act where our MPs, we voted for them, so they can go and debate and approve, but this has to do with the Constitution that’s why adequate consultation is very important. But we are not saying all the 17 million (Zambians) should be present, it’s not possible. I am urging MPs to come now, as they are on recess to come to their constituencies and sensitize the people about Bill 10. So far, personally, I have not seen any MP in Southern Province coming to tell the people about Bill 10,” he complained.
Meanwhile, he insisted that there was need for the international community to ameliorate Zambia’s hunger crisis, especially in rural districts as government could not resolve the challenge alone.
The traditional leader, however, declined to declare hunger a disaster.
“I may not go into that (calling hunger a disaster); I am saying the situation is very bad, it requires quick response! We need help from the international community because the extent of the hunger cannot be handled by ourselves here, the people or, indeed, government. The example is there, there is a question here, which says what have we learnt as a result of what is happening now in relation to food relief and maize for sale by FRA (Food Reserve Agency). You know, FRA is selling maize in these districts and there is food relief by the DMMU where they are giving 12 and half Kg to households. Now, the problem is where you have 2,000 beneficiaries or the potential people who are affected by hunger and the government will only bring 600 X 12Kg. You may give 300 families. If you give them two bags, it’s 300 out of 2,000 families, you are leaving 1,700 in the cold, which goes to show you that government does not have the capacity, in as much as they want to serve their people, but they don’t have the capacity to serve all the affected people. So, it shows that even if government wants to do it, they don’t have the capacity to do it, the extent is just too huge,” said chief Chikanta.
“There is hunger because the effects of climate change in the 2018/2019 farming season became very visible that climate change is real, things are not the same anymore. So, we have been devastated where Chikanta or Dundumwezi as a constituency in one of the highest producers of maize in Kalomo District and one of the best in Southern Province so we have had no maize, no other crops per se and no water for our livestock and even grass. So, if the highest productive area is affected to the tune that we are affected, then I can imagine the other areas like the valley areas from Kazungula to Chirundu. They are devastated more than us! A bit of some farmers, even in 2018, some farmers harvested but you see, because we didn’t have good storage facilities, we failed. When it comes, now, when there is hunger, like this year, we have to come from Chikanta to come and buy from Choma FRA shed or Kalomo FRA shed, we need to seriously think of storage facilities within the chiefdoms, big storage facilities where we can, even FRA can ask them to keep some of their maze there so that when there is a calamity like this one, we just buy from within, so storage facilities are very critical.”