CHIMWEMWE MWALE, Lusaka
PRESIDENT Lungu says traditional leaders remain an integral part of the governance system through which Government reaches out to the people.
The President said his administration is duty-bound to reach out to traditional leaders countrywide to effectively deliver development.
Mr Lungu said this during a meeting with 31 chiefs from North-Western Province at State House in Lusaka yesterday.
Senior Chief Ndungu was reportedly attending a funeral sent a representative.
â€œAs Patriotic Front (PF), we believe sincerely that you (traditional leaders) are an integral part of our governance system, and without your involvement there is no way we can take the development that we are duty-bound to deliver.
â€œPlease feel free to talk to us and engage us as your children and in turn also respond accordingly so that we work together because we believe that without you we cannot sincerely reach out to the people.
â€œWe believe the ideas should come from the people through the established structures and when we meet we are able to determine that this chieftainship needs this as a priority,â€ President Lungu said.
And President Lungu has dismissed assertions that he had gone to campaign in North-Western Province when he visited the province recently.
He added that the traditional leaders had not been invited to be engaged politically but to discuss development.
Mr Lungu also urged the chiefs to distance themselves from politics and to focus on development.
â€œI did not call you here for politics, I called you so that we can meet and just have a chat. I was in the North-Western Province recently and little did anyone of us know that our friend (Solwezi West MP Humphrey Mwanza) would pass on, so itâ€™s just a coincidence.
â€œSome people are saying I am campaigning and that is why I invited you hereâ€¦but you can see how political we are, everything is political. I would like you to see this invitation as one of those things I would like to do not only for you royal highnesses of North-Western Province but for the whole country,â€ he said.
President Lungu assured the chiefs that Government will continue to gradually deliver development to all parts of the country.
He said the construction of roads in North-Western Province will continue in phases under the Link Zambia 8000 project while the construction of a bridge between Zambezi West and East will be considered in the 2016 national budget.
â€œWe have to do a budget proposition to do the bridge between Zambezi West and East. Itâ€™s a long-term project and we can partly cover it,â€ President Lungu said.
And responding to calls by traditional leaders to create new districts in North-Western Province, President Lungu said there is need for comprehensive consultations before creating new districts because some newly-created districts have â€œconflictedâ€ constituency boundaries.
The traditional leaders, through their representative senior Chief Ntambu, have also called on Government to consider creating new districts and relocating the provincial capital from Solwezi to Mufumbwe, which is considered more geographically central.
In response, President Lungu said: â€œI am trying to avoid that complex matter and am consulting with the Electoral Commission of Zambia to see how we can harmonise this situation. It calls for proper planning and you have to give us time to sit with technocrats and prepare adequately.â€
Chief Ntambu, who is House of Chiefs deputy chairperson, also appealed to Government to consider constructing a university, agriculture college, roads, hydro-power plants, hospitals, and schools in the province.
Meanwhile, President Lungu has ordered for the arrest of anyone masquerading as a chief or attempting to create a chiefdom because Government only recognises a total of 286 chiefs in accordance with the government gazette from the tenure of former Kenneth Kaundaâ€™s administration.
This was after the traditional leaders expressed concern about ongoing succession wrangles in some chiefdoms.
â€œWe are not going to create or recognise new chiefdoms apart from the 286 chiefs and anyone masquerading as a chief must be arrested,â€ President Lungu said.
He also assured the chiefs that the appointment of district commissioners in the province is receiving consideration.
â€œThis issue is receiving consideration because I do not want to cause controversy.Â Some people become too ambitious when they are appointed as district commissioners and want to become members of Parliament and in the end work in the district suffers,â€ Mr Lungu said.
And senior chief Kanongesha of Mwinilunga, who is provincial chairperson of chiefs, thanked President Lungu for sparing time to interact with the traditional leaders, describing the meeting as historical.
Senior chief Kanongesha also said the chiefs are happy that Mr Lungu visited North-Western Province to â€œobserve livelihoodsâ€.
â€œWe are also happy with your efforts on the crusade to unite the country under the â€˜One Zambia, One Nationâ€™ motto. We will not leave you alone in this crusade, we will work hand in hand with you in uniting the country,â€ he said.
CHIMWEMWE MWALE, Lusaka