MAZABUKA Central UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo says the PF has reduced chiefs to vuvuzelas because the ruling party is good at patronising citizens of which traditional leaders have not been spared.

But Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya says it is scary to imagine what the UPND will do to those who have opposing views with them once they forms government.

Debating on the 2021 budget allocation to the Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs in Parliament, Tuesday, Nkombo bemoaned a continuous degeneration of the dignity of institutions of traditional leadership under the PF government.

“We have seen a continuous degeneration of the dignity of the institution of traditional leadership under the Patriotic Front because of their tendency of patronage and transactional leadership. Under the PF, transactional leadership means that the leader promotes somebody based on a transaction of submission on one hand, and punishment on another. This government of PF has denigrated the institution of chiefs. They began with civil servants because it’s in their constitution that only PF members are going to get employment in key positions. And now they have cascaded it to the royal highnesses. Your government needs to stand up and leave leverage for the chiefs to govern us in a manner that they were meant to even in the era of colonialism. The colonialists never influenced the chiefs to take sides on a person based on their political affiliation. Under PF, Mr Chairman, we have seen the proliferation of society, the differing of people based on patronage. PF is very good at patronising citizens, and they have not spared the chiefs. They have reduced the chiefs to vuvuzelas! I have a chief in Southern Province who has been seen on social media. A young chief, probably the age of my son,” Nkombo said.

But debating on the same subject, Siliya said traditional leaders wanted recognition from government because the two served the same people.

“Recently, their royal highnesses from different parts of Zambia had one very strong message that they wish to work with the government of the day and in this case, that is the PF government. Mr Speaker, they have been very clear that the people the government serves are the same people that their royal highnesses are also serving. And as such, it is very difficult to imagine that their royal highnesses would be divorced from the government of the day because at the end of the day, what their royal highnesses are looking for are services for their people. And when they are looking for these services, Mr Chairperson, whom do we expect them to turn to when looking for roads or services for their people. Of course, they are going to turn to government,” Siliya said.

“And in this case, government has been responding to their royal highnesses that that is the whole essence of Bill 10 because if you recall in 2016, there was a sort of detachment of government from their royal highnesses. And they have made a very clear case that they would love to work as closely as possible with government. I am going around the country and been explaining Bill 10 to their royal highnesses. And in fact, we are on the same side. The government and the people of Zambia, and their royal highnesses are on the same side because we want the same thing, and that is to work as closely as possible.”

Siliya stressed that there was no reason for traditional leaders to be unhappy when they see development being rolled out by government.

“And for us, as a government, we have a duty to respond to the calls of their royal highnesses regarding their need to want to be recognised by government. All the challenges that we’re hearing about, challenges of disagreement in their royal highnesses’ families and palaces, all these issues, and that will be done once we close the Bill 10 bridge. Mr Chairperson, I found it very strange that somebody would be referring to their royal highnesses as trumpets or as vuvuzelas. It is strange to me because, for example, the chiefs in Southern Province were for the first time after so many years and so many administrations, they see the Kazungula Bridge being done, why should they be happy with joy? Why should somebody refer to that as being vuvuzela? The people in Mongu are seeing the new hospital, why shouldn’t their royal highnesses be happy and shout with joy? Why should anybody refer to them as vuvuzela?” Siliya wondered.

“Even in my constituency for the first time, Chief Kalindawala is happy seeing a new big, modern hospital, why shouldn’t he jump with joy? Why should he be referred to as vuvuzela? FRA (Food Reserve Agency), they are calling it as ‘cash and carry,’ that you deliver your maize and you are paid on time, why shouldn’t their royal highnesses jump up with joy when they are seeing that government is delivering to the people?”

And Siliya, who is also Petauke Central PF member of parliament, said it was scary to imagine what the UPND would do to those who disagreed with them once it formed government.

“Mr Speaker, even when there is disaster, we saw the Vice-President (Inonge Wina) in Chipata immediately went there when there was a disaster, why should their royal highnesses jump up with joy that this is a government that is responsive and can respond to their needs immediately? Mr Speaker, the kind of vuvuzelas or trumpet we want is a positive one, not the ones we hear from our colleagues [who are] always denigrating eroding confidence in the institutions of governance, such as the Judiciary, the royal highnesses, the ACC, the ECZ. These are the ones that are always denigrating the important role of these institutions and yet they are not even in government! It is a bit scary to imagine what they will do when they are in government to people they do not agree with because if a chief is happy that he has seen a road, hospital, water being delivered, fertiliser, relief food, why shouldn’t a chief be happy? asked Siliya.