HOUSE of chiefs spokesperson Senior Chief Kaputa says traditional leaders cannot be politicians’ vuvuzelas.

And Senior Chief Kaputa says the House of Chiefs will soon issue some guidelines which will prevent traditional leaders from being pressured into making political statements.

In Parliament while debating on the 2021 budget allocation for the Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs last Tuesday, Mazabuka Central UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo said the Patriotic Front (PF) had reduced chiefs to vuvuzelas because the party was good at patronizing citizens of which traditional leaders had not been spared.

“We have seen a continuous degeneration of the dignity of the institution of traditional leadership under Patriotic Front because of their tendency of patronage and transactional leadership. Under 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 manger 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 patronizing 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,” said Nkombo.

But in an interview, Chief Kaputa said traditional leaders could not be vuvuzelas for politicians because politicians were their subjects.

“I may not want to agree with that position [that most of the chiefs have been turned into PF vuvuzelas]. We have a House of Chiefs here and what we have been trying to do is to come up with a circular to guide chiefs on the maintenance of public peace in chiefdoms and in the nation and also containing the issues of the honor and dignity of the institution of chieftaincy. I know that there are chiefs that make some comments here and there but I think the statement coming from the opposition party is not fair, to say that chiefs have been bought and turned into PF vuvuzelas,” Chief Kaputa said.

He said chiefs should not join the political arena because they did not belong there.

“And the argument would also be that there are those chiefs who speak for the opposition. So, you may also not say yes, the chiefs have been turned into vuvuzelas for political parties. Of course we would not want our chiefs to cross over into the political arena because we don’t belong there. Our position is different from the position of politicians because we superintend over people of different professions. We don’t want to be fighting with our own subjects. If we have for example 10 political parties in Zambia, we may have so many of those in our chiefdoms. And it will just be right for the chief not to openly support one party because it may influence those other subjects who belong to other political parties. Like I said, there are certain chiefs who make innocent comments not knowing that they have crossed the line into the political field,” Chief Kaputa said.

“That is why as a House and Ministry, we want to issue this circular or maybe we call it a guideline to alert our chiefs on how to be conducting themselves. This time where everyone wants to gain political mileage, they may even be putting certain chiefs under pressure to just say something. And this is not the way to go. We want to be cautious. We want to tell our Royal Highnesses to be cautious and not to play in the hands of politicians because politicians are our subjects [and] we cannot fall to their realms.”

Meanwhile, Chief Kaputa said the House of Chiefs was almost reaching at an agreement with the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources in terms of developing a land policy.

“We are almost agreeing with the Ministry of Lands. We are almost on the same page in terms of the content of the national land policy. In our last meeting in January this year, we came up with the final version of the document [that] we wants validated, and that’s the only process which is remaining. I think when the ministry has got enough resources, they will call for its validation, meaning a number of chiefs and other stakeholders will be invited to come and review that document which is almost done. So, the only process remaining now is to validate or to invalidate the content,” said Chief Kaputa.