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Sunday, 4 January 2009

Insights from Chiefs (Chief Ndake)

“I wish to state that I find it hard to say that even though government facilitates donor funding to non-governmental organisations here in our country, it has lamentably directly and effectively failed to assemble chiefs for the purpose of training them so that they effectively and efficiently play their role in the field of good governance. I do realise Mr Chairman that in politics, manipulation does produce desired goals; I don’t know whether it is in most cases but it would appear so. It’s sad to note that that is what a majority of political leaders have managed to do to chiefs here in the Eastern Province, manipulation instead of sensitisation, educating us so that we become effective amicable players in the field of governance..”

Chief Ndake of the Nsenga people , who openly endorsed Rupiah Banda during the presidential elections, calling for greater role for chiefs in development. We continue to see renewed momentum from chiefs to be engaged in economic development. We shall discuss this in more detail in the next post in our ongoing series on Traditional Authorities. I would briefly note that there are probably five reasons why in recent years chiefs have become more vocal in national debate.

First, increased electoral competition has given chiefs unparalled opportunities to emerge as "kingmakers". Since the dawn of multi-party politics, Chiefs have emerged as critical players in a way they had not been during the first and second republic. Leaders now clamour for endorsement from chiefs to give them a stronger winning chance. This blog tracked these endorsements as part of
"Chiefs and election fever" blog specials.

Secondly, the market and constitutional reforms in the Chiluba era, in partcular the land reforms of 1995 and the constitutional amendement in 1996 which defines the Chieftaincy as "a corporation sole with perpetual succession and with capacity to sue and be sued and to hold assets or properties in trust for itself and the peoples concerned”, effectively gave chiefs a new lease of life.

Thirdly, increased poverty levels especially with the SAP reforms have forced chiefs to become more vocal for their rural dwellers. The breakdown in social cohesion has become a significant threat to the authority of the chieftaincy. Chiefs have realised that the cultural and economic objectives are intertwinned.

Fourthly, chiefs are becoming more educated. We now have a number of well educated chiefs like Chief Bright Nalubamba, Senior Chief Kapalaula II and many others, who are able to speak intelligently on many issues.

Finally, new mediums of communication. There's no doubt that plethora of new mediums from local radio stations to the internet, has provided chiefs with enormous opportunities to educate themselves on issues and presented a new opportunity to get their message out.

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