May 19, 2004

Chiefs demand autonomy

The House of Chiefs want to be de-linked from the Ministry of Local Government and Housing to make it an autonomous institution under the Office of the President or Vice-President. The Chiefs representative, Chief Mumena of the Kaonde people submitted to the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) in Lusaka that treating the House of Chiefs as though it were a department of the Ministry had proved to be a stumbling block to its smooth and efficient operation. "The role of chiefs must be extended from that of merely being customary and cultural, but should have a role to play in governance issues. The Chiefs have great potential to contribute to national development, just confining them to traditional roles will not do any justice to this nation", he said. He petitioned that succession and boundary disputes should be handled by the House of Chiefs as they were better placed to adequately deal with such matters.

Former Works and Supply minister Andrew Kashita submitted that the National Assembly should comprise the lower and upper house to cater for the chiefs who should have five representatives from each province while the lower house should comprise the 150 elected MPs. He said the Vice-President should be subjected to a popular vote during an election together with the President after the dissolution of Parliament. Mr Kashita said the President elect should assume office after a three-month hand-over period, during which any petition hearings should be disposed of through a Constitutional Court and judgment passed within 80 days. He submitted that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) should be replaced with the Government Prosecution Division to comprise various stakeholders and should be chaired by the Attorney General. (The Times of Zambia, Ndola)

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