Is the stand-off between Government and the Bemba Royal Establishment (Bashilubemba) over the choice of the Chitimukulu necessary?
This is probably the question most people who follow leadership succession dispute in traditional settings are asking.
While Government has made it clear that former senior Chief Mwamba, Henry Kanyanta Sosala, is not the heir to the throne of Chitimukulu, the Bashilubemba have insisted that he has already assumed the position.
This succession controversy has been dragging on for some time now without any discernable solution in sight.
To make matters worse, although Government has refused to recognise Mr Sosala as Chief Chitimukulu, it has not come in the open to explain the reason behind their refusal.
This brings to tone another question whether Government’s refusal to recognise Mr Sosala is motivated by malice or the desire to impose a friendly force as a Chitimukulu.
If neither were the case, we would have thought Government would have read the Chiefs Act in its entirety.
It does not augur well for Government to rush to pronounce penalties in the Chiefs Act when amicable ways of resolving a leadership dispute are provided for in the same Act.
While the Act is clear that no person shall be recognised as Chief unless the President is satisfied, it also provides for inquiries in case the Head of State is in doubt of the person holding the office of Chief or earmarked for the position of a traditional leader.
Section 5 of the Chiefs Act states; “The President may appoint a person or persons to inquire into any question relating to the recognition of any person under this Act or the withdrawal of the recognition accorded to any such person and on the completion of the inquiry, to report and make recommendations thereon to the President.”
We wonder why the Government is not using this provision to resolve misunderstandings with the Bemba Royal Establishment.
Since no-one is willing to proffer reasons why the State is against Mr Sosala, it is our suggestion that President Sata uses section 5 of the Chiefs Act to help end the impasse over the appointment of the Chitimukulu.
But even as Government proceeds in this manner, it should be mindful of the feelings of the Bemba people over the selection of the Chitimukulu.
It should be noted that at the moment, no-one apart from Mr Sosala is claiming the throne.
If indeed a scramble for the Chitimukulu was imminent, it would not have taken government to break the news.
Court registries are full of cases involving leadership disputes in some chiefdoms.
And these cases have adequately been handled by the courts of law and an amicable solution found.
So this stand-off between Government and the Bashilubemba is absolutely unnecessary as Zambia has legal provisions which aggrieved parties can use to resolve misunderstandings.