The Nkoya Royal Establishment of Kaoma in Western Province says it has been denied justice in a matter in which it sued the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) 14 years ago.
In a written submission to the Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission public sitting in Kaoma on Friday, Ngambela Mwanashihemi noted that the popular saying that justice delayed is justice denied does not have any impact in the Zambian legal system.
“We say so because of our own experience, we took Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) to court in 2000, to date the case has not even appeared for hearing,” said Ngambela Mwanashihemi.
And Ngambela Mwanashihemi, who represented His Royal Highness Mwene Mutondo of Lukena Palace, also submitted that local courts must be managed by indigenous people in their respective districts with the exception of towns.
“Our experience has seen that traditional courts have experience and authority over customary land, however, we note that some local court presiding justices make judgments on matters of land and tradition when they do not understand the local tradition and culture,” said Ngambela Mwanashihemi.
The Nkoya Royal Establishment further submitted that while the Constitution of Zambia is very clear and empowers all tribes in Zambia, the right to practice their culture and tradition, the Nkoyas contend that they are not part of the Lozi ethnic group and cannot be made accountable to the Litunga.
“Though the Chiefs Act is clear about the powers of the Litunga, the interpretation of the Act by successive governments contravenes the grand norm of the land, the Zambian Constitution,” submitted the Ngambela.
Ngambela Mwanashihemi urged the State to urgently correct the anomaly and pointed out that the people of Western Province now live in a divided region arising from the Barotseland Agreement of 1964.
“There are those who question Lusaka whether it is in order to have a lopsided agreement ignored completely by one partner,” he said.
Ngambela Mwanashihemi also submitted that the State’s inability to address the traditional conflicts in Kaoma, Nkeyema and Luampa districts is destabilizing the affected districts.
He said the Nkoya Royal Establishment sued the BRE at Naliele in order to curb anarchy emanating from land and tradition and consequently obtained judgments in their favour including that of the lands tribunal of 2014.
The Ngambela said the situation had resulted in serious legal and social concerns which are promoting unnecessary tension in Kaoma, Nkeyema and Luampa districts.