However, the larger part of the chiefdom is still economically deprived, with many local people living in abject poverty. To address the challenges of development and poverty, His Royal Highness Munokalya Mukuni and other leaders of the Mukuni Chiefdom have come up with the Chiefdom’s Strategic Development Plan for 2013 to 2017.
The plan covers agriculture, tourism and natural resources, livestock, food security, infrastructure, education, health and HIV, empowerment of women and youth, culture and management among others.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Support to the HIV/AIDS Response in Zambia (ShARe II) project provided technical assistance to guide the strategic planning process. Accordingly, the strategic development plan is a forward-looking roadmap for the chiefdom’s future to guide the developmental aspirations of the people of Mukuni Chiefdom.
Chiefs and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkandu Luo launched the chiefdom’s strategic development plan on August 30, 2013 during the commemoration of this year’s Bene Mukuni traditional ceremony of the Toka-Leya people of Southern Province.
Several chiefs across Zambia as well as from Zimbabwe and Canada attended this year’s Bene Mukuni traditional ceremony. Prior to the launch of the plan, Senior Chief Mukuni performed several traditional rituals as part of celebrations. One of the rituals performed was the killing of a cow and its blood was used to wash the feet of the chief.
Speaking during the ceremony, Professor Luo said the launch of the strategic plan was historic not only to Mukuni Chiefdom but to other chiefdoms across Zambia. Prof Luo said chiefdoms were lagging behind in terms of development previously but there was hope currently because all chiefdoms would soon have developmental strategic plans to promote development in their localities.
“Chiefdoms were previously left behind for many years in terms of development and yet they have people who have been contributing to the development of Zambia. “The other 19 developmental strategic plans for chiefdoms will soon be concluded by the USAID Zambia,” Prof Luo said. She said the institution of chiefdoms had not been celebrated for many years and a lot of partners were scared to invest in chiefdoms.
Prof Luo said the USAID had however, taken a risk to invest in chiefdoms by investing US$1 million through SHARe II project in the campaign against child marriages. Furthermore, the USAID is also investing $380,000 to propagate peace and unity using female chiefs and wives of chiefs. Prof Luo said under the leadership of President Michael Sata, chiefs were currently being given a new role and prominence in the development agenda.
“Our ministry stands ready to support what has been identified in the Mukuni Strategic Development Plan. “We need to support development in our chiefdoms so that we bring wealth to the local people,” Prof Luo said. She said medicine from hospitals and clinics also came from trees and it was important that traditional leaders helped to preserve the forest.
Prof Luo urged Zambians to use Victoria Falls as a research site in addition to it being a tourist attraction. She further said the issue of child marriages should be fought by every citizen because it was the cause of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and HIV/AIDS among other challenges.
Speaking at the same function, First Lady Christine Kaseba urged traditional rulers in Zambia to emulate Senior Chief Munokalya Mukuni to invest in the documentation of their traditions. “I am reliably informed that the ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs has a programme for documentation of traditions.
“In this regard, therefore, I urge the ministry’s officers in the various districts to coordinate effectively with the traditional authorities for the production of the best written records of our history,” Dr Kaseba said.
Dr Kaseba also urged chiefs in Zambia to put to a stop practices that harm women and practices that could retarded development in the country.
She said traditional rulers should avoid practices that put women at risk of harm, saying the country’s culture should not permit men to batter their partners to death. “I wish to call upon our Royal Highnesses in Zambia and beyond to put to a stop practices that harm our women. Our culture does not condone rape and defilement but it upholds the dignity of women in society,” Dr Kaseba said.
She said there was need to encourage women to be health conscious and be screened for breast and cervical cancer as well as other feminine related diseases. Dr Kaseba said the future of societies depended on women and as such society must make it a priority to safeguard women’s existence.
She also urged Senior Chief Mukuni to ensure that his female co-ruler, Bedyango, was honoured and recognised for the motherly and administrative role played by her fore-mothers many years go. Dr Kaseba also said President Sata still stood by his campaign promises of having a better future for Zambians and empowered citizens through the Patriotic Front (PF) manifesto.
Dr Kaseba said President Sata sent her to assure the people of Mukuni Chiefdom and the rest of Zambia that he was still standing by his campaign promises of improving the lives of Zambians. “I am very conscious to the fact that the PF Government won the right to rule Zambia on the promise of a better future and an empowered citizenly through its manifesto.
“The President has sent me to assure you that he stands by his promises. He is counting on your support and involvement in development plans,” Dr Kaseba-Sata said. She also reiterated President Sata’s commitment to developing Livingstone after the 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly.
“When President Sata came here in Livingstone for the official opening of the UNWTO General Assembly, he assured the nation that more would be done to develop Livingstone even after the UNWTO conference.” “I want to assure you that I will behave like a mosquito in the night, when President Sata is sleeping, to make noise and remind him of good things he promised the people of Livingstone,” she said.
USAID Zambia mission director Susan Brems said the chiefdom’s developmental strategic plan was an excellent example of how chiefdoms could exercise leadership on HIV/AIDS issues through a people driven democratic process.
Dr Brems said the plan was very comprehensive and yet it aptly identified the comparative advantages and the needs of the chiefdom. “I congratulate the people of Munokalya Mukuni Chiefdom for taking your development into your own hands and becoming captains of your own fate by designing your own developmental plan. “Zambia proudly boasts of 287 chiefdoms throughout its territory and the SHARe II project is working with 35 of them to develop these developmental strategic plans,” Dr Brems said.
Mukuni Development Trust chairperson Mupotola Siloka said his chiefdom had always strove to continuously seek to supplement Government efforts in reducing poverty levels of its people. Indeed the future for the people of Mukuni Chiefdom has been brightened following the launch of the strategic plan.
Once implemented appropriately, the plan will go a long way in uplifting the lives of local people in the chiefdom.