16 January 2013

Zambia: Litunga Sorry, Sends Delegates

THE Litunga of the Lozi people has apologised to the Constitution Technical Committee and requested that his representatives join the ongoing Western Province Constitution Convention in Mongu.

The Litunga said this through three Indunas he sent as delegates to represent the the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) at the convention which started on Monday and ends on Saturday.

The three Indunas are Namuyamba Esineke, Namunda Katanekwa and Saywa Meebelo.

Addressing members of the Technical Committee at Mongu Teachers Training College yesterday, delegation leader Induna Esineke said the BRE was committed to taking part in the Constitution-making process because it was an important national exercise.

"We are also attaching the same importance to this national undertaking and we are glad to be participating, to come and participate although late.

"It's true (that) when it (Constitution) comes out finally it will actually create that sense of ownership even in us that we played a part," Induna Esineke said.

Meanwhile, Technical Committee chairperson Annel Silungwe has assured delegates at the Western Province Constitution Convention that the Committee operates independently.

Mr Justice Silungwe's explanation followed concerns raised by a delegate, Bernard Silumesii, who wanted to know why the Technical Committee did not include the Barotseland Agreement of 1964 in the First Draft Constitution.

But Mr Justice Silungwe dispelled assertions suggesting that the Technical Committee was not operating independently.

Adding to the debate, Western Province Freedom Fighters Association of Zambia chairperson Priscilla Kutooma 79, complained that freedom fighters had become destitutes because there were no statutes in the current Republican Constitution as well as the draft document that addressed their plight.

Meanwhile, some delegates to the Muchinga Province convention have proposed the creation of the Customary Land Regulatory Body to monitor and halt illegal traditional land allocation in Zambia.

During the group discussions yesterday, delegates debating some parts of the first draft constitution on Land and General Provision, among others, said most traditional leaders were corruptly allocating land and denying the locals the opportunity to own land.

Group leader, Isaac Simutowe of Mafinga said the functions of the Customary Land Regulatory Body should be created by an Act of Parliament to enable it effectively provide checks and balances in traditional land allocation.

Reverend Donory Chileshe from Chinsali said the creation of the Customary Land Regulatory Body would halt discrimination in the way land was allocated at the expense of locals in various chiefdoms.

And former Chiengi Member of Parliament Katele Kalumba has hailed President Michael Sata for giving an opportunity to the people of Zambia to participate in the Constitution-making process through the provincial conventions.

Speaking in an interview yesterday in Mansa Dr Kalumba said Mr Sata's concern for the ordinary citizen which dated back to 2001 had been demonstrated by his willingness to deliver a people-driven Constitution.

Dr Kalumba, who has been elected Luapula Province Constitutional Convention chairperson, said the constitutional road map had made it easier for citizens to participate as opposed to the National Constitutional Commission which merely solicited for proposals.

Spokesperson of the Technical Committee Ernest Mwansa called for a spirit of give and take in the constitution deliberations.

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