STEVEN MVULA, Lusaka
PARAMOUNT Chief Mpezeni of the Ngoni people of Eastern Province says he has accepted Governmentâ€™s apology over policeâ€™s cancellation of a meeting he was to address over a land settlement dispute between the Ngonis and the Chewas in Chipangali on Sunday.
And Paramount Chief Kalonga Gawa Undi of the Chewa people of Eastern Province has appealed to traditional leaders and other stakeholders who have little or no knowledge of the Chewa and Ngoni history to desist from making uninformed statements on the matter because it can be a breeding ground for hostility.
Paramount Chief Mpezeni has invited Government to visit his palace to formalise the apology.
And chief government spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili has promised to visit paramount chiefs Mpezeni and Gawa Undi over the weekend to physically apologise to them.
â€œI am physically going there over the weekend to pay a courtesy call on both Gawa Undi and Mpezeni,â€ Mr Kambwili said in an interview yesterday.
He said Government is grateful that the two traditional leaders have accepted the apology.
And Paramount Chief Mpezeni said in a telephone interview from his palace yesterday that: â€œSome people here want to de-campaign President Lungu by antagonising us, the traditional leaders. Let Government come in person and apologise.â€
Paramount Chief Mpezeni said he has accepted Governmentâ€™s apology but merely wants it formalised.
He wondered why Eastern Province permanent secretary Chanda Kasolo, who had earlier given him permission to address his subjects, later changed his mind.
â€œPeople here want to make President Lungu look bad. But I know that the President is well informed,â€ he said.
And Paramount Chief Mpezeniâ€™s induna George Zulu said in a separate interview that the traditional leader has accepted Governmentâ€™s apology.
Mr Zulu said Paramount Chief Mpezeni is happy that Government has apologised because he does not want to depart from the path of working with Government.
â€œI am happy with this honest apology by Government. This is dignifying but it is also an eye-opener that Government and the traditional leadership need to find a lasting solution to this problem so that the two people can continue to live in harmony as they have always done,â€ Paramount Chief Mpezeni said.
Paramount Chief Mpezeni wants to meet President Lungu and to brief him on the matter in case he was misinformed.
â€œWe want to continue to co-exist. This problem does not need a political solution but an administrative one so that we can continue to live in harmony,â€ Paramount Chief Mpezeni said.
The traditional leader also urged Government to thoroughly investigate what transpired to establish the truth and tell President Lungu because some security wings have denied using force to disperse the people.
â€œI wish to appeal to our people in Chipangali to remain calm because this matter will be resolved amicably in the best interest of all,â€ Paramount Chief Mpezeni said.
On Wednesday, Mr Kambwili apologised to the paramount chief and the Ngoni people for the police action.
But Paramount Chief Gawa Undi, through his spokesperson James Chirwa, has said that: â€œIf indeed the police stopped that meeting from taking place, we feel that was the right thing to do.â€
This was said at a press briefing in Lusaka yesterday.
Paramount Chief Gawa Undi said while he enjoys peaceful coexistence with all other neighbouring tribes, Paramount Chief Mpezeni should not go and install a councillor in Chipangali, a Chewa territory.
He said the action taken by the police should not have been a surprise because the provincial leadership had advised that the Ngoni meeting should not go ahead citing security reasons.
â€œI further call upon all the Chewa to remain calm and not take the law into their own hands,â€ he said.
STEVEN MVULA, Lusaka