Editor's Comment

Chiefs must see bigger picture

LUNGU

TRADITIONAL leaders, as partners in development and custodians of large tracts on land, are key to determining the pace of Zambia’s development.
They can either accelerate development for the good of their subjects and other people or cause stagnation to the detriment of the people they preside over.
Development though should never be self-centred. Location of projects should not be determined by the proximity of their palaces or homesteads. Development projects must be located where the impact would be maximised.
Development is for the benefit of all Zambians. That is Government’s thrust. Of course, traditional leaders are also being appropriately taken care of, but the bigger picture is that all citizens, regardless of their social status, must benefit from the many projects under way and in the pipeline.
Unfortunately, it is noted, there are some chiefs who want projects located as close to them as possible in all instances. They hesitate or out-rightly reject request for land on which projects can be done.
Development, as President Lungu has said, is being taken to people who need it most. This is why projects in various sectors of the economy are being spread across the country.
Chiefs that have the right vision have been generous in providing the needed land for development and they are steadily seeing the benefits of this shared national resource.
They heed the request for land and they respect the opinions of technocrats on where projects should be set up.
Often, in arriving at the location for a project, Government wants to make it easier for as many people as possible to benefit from the services the intended project will offer when it is operational.
Among other factors, the technocrats may consider distance and the population the intended project will cater for, given that rural populations tend to be sparse and spread over a vast area.
We reckon that chiefs, as traditional leaders, are in charge of their areas and to a large extent, they can advise on location and type of projects, but it is inappropriate for them to insist that a project be located in their chiefdom.
The President last Friday expressed displeasure at chiefs who insist that a project be undertaken in their chiefdom.
He said chiefs should not be a stumbling block to Government’s development agenda by disregarding advice from technocrats and instead insist that they want a project to be in their chiefdom.
The President was speaking in Lupososhi when he laid a foundation stone for the construction of the K154 million Bangweulu Regional Hospital.
The hospital is expected to cater for over four million people in Northern, Luapula and Muchinga Provinces, including some parts of the Copperbelt.
From this, we can see that the President takes a holistic view while some chiefs focus only on their limited jurisdiction.
Government funds major projects throughout the country and uses its other resources to implement them in line with its objectives as enshrined under the Seventh National Development Plan and other documents.
So when Government decides where to locate a project, it has a vast area in mind, like this project which is intended to benefit four million people in four provinces.
Chiefs should be the last people to derail Government projects and if they have the interest of their subjects at heart, they should instead spearhead development for their subjects.
At best, they are expected to be partners with Government, together with their subjects who are the beneficiaries, so that projects prosper and development is made a reality for all Zambians.

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