A Village headman in Gwembe has allegedly directed couples in his area to register pregnancies immediately a woman conceives. Residents have, however, protested and threatened to beat up the headman. The irate residents of Hamunjebwa village are also accusing their new headman, Constantine Bwana, whom they claim has been imposed on them, of hampering development by chasing investors whenever they visit the chiefdom.
The residents marched to Gwembe Town Council and the Munyumbwe Local Court during a protest yesterday. A representative, Brilliance Hamunjebwa, said Mr Bwana has introduced a new law which compels women to register their pregnancies to him. “He says he has the right to know who is pregnant in the village at an early stage because he is the headman,” Mrs Hamunjebwa said.
She said confusion in the village started when Chief Munyumbwe became ill and some people started imposing themselves on various leadership positions. Mrs Hamunjebwa alleged that the chief’s son, only identified as Harry, dismissed the legitimate headman Peter Hamanyuma and replaced him with Mr Bwane.
She said Mr Bwana, who could not be reached for a comment, does not belong to the clan. Therefore, he is not a legitimate headman. And another representative, Sydney Simalundu, said the villagers took the matter to court but justice was not served because Mr Bwana won the case.
He accused Mr Bwana of rejecting plans by an investor to set up a milling plant in the village.
Mr Simalundu said according to Tonga tradition, Mr Bwana is not eligible to head the village because he is the son of the immediate past headman who died. He said only Mr Hamunjebwa is traditionally eligible to be the headman because he is the nephew of the late headman.
Meanwhile, Gwembe Council chairperson Paul Chilala is shocked to learn that married women are being asked to inform the headman of their pregnancies.
“I have not heard anywhere in the world where women are required to report to the headman that they are pregnant because the headman has no authority over someone’s wife,” Mr Chilala said. He said confusion in Chief Munyumbwe’s chiefdom has been going on since the traditional leader got sick and some people started trying to use the opportunity to make money.
Mr Chilala said no one is allowed to perform duties of the chief even when he is unwell, and that individuals taking advantage of his illness to exploit people will be prosecuted. Addressing the villagers, Gwembe District Commissioner Justus Phiri urged the residents to remain calm as his office will consult the legal fraternity on the matter.
“We have heard your complaints but this is a very sensitive issue which we cannot give an answer to right now,” he said.
Mr Phiri urged the villagers not to take the law into their own hands.