NICE boss calls for reforms in Malawi Chiefs Act

National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Executive Director, Ollen Mwalubunju has called for reforms in the Chiefs Act saying the Act, in its present form does not support the growth of democracy.

Chiefs marching  to present a petition

Chiefs marching to present a petition

Mwalubunju made the call following a petition by chiefs which demanded government should take stern action against striking public servants by dismissing them without pay if they did not end their strike and return to work.

“Among several anomalies, the Act (in Sections 3, 4, 10 and 16) gives the president powers to appoint, promote or remove chiefs or increase or decrease the area of a chief’s jurisdiction. It also gives the president discretionary powers to determine the chiefs’ remuneration,” Mwalubunju observed.

As a result of those provisions, he said, the survival of chieftaincies is dependent on the goodwill of sitting presidents, resulting in chiefs acting in a manner that shows loyalty to the president and, often the president’s political party.

“We have some chiefs in Malawi who often act like ruling party functionaries largely due to weaknesses within the Chiefs Act which was enacted at the peak of single-party dictatorship in 1967 and was clearly designed to sustain dictatorship by containing provisions that compel chiefs to have personal loyalty to the president,” he added.

The Nice boss said with due respect, chiefs are not experts in labour matters and therefore cannot be the ones to prescribe a solution to a labour dispute. The best chief would have done was to encourage both sides to use dialogue in order to end the impulse, perhaps even offering themselves to assist in the mediation without being seen to side with one party against the other.

He said the main reason chiefs “poke their noses in matters that dot concern them” was the weakness of the Chiefs Act.

“That is what leads to our chiefs, some of  them highly educated and otherwise knowledgeable, taking irrational and dictatorial actions such as demanding that people who are on striker should be dismissed without compensation,” he said.

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27 thoughts on “NICE boss calls for reforms in Malawi Chiefs Act”



  2. moto mwikho says:

    It is logic that no one should be allowed to hold up services or get paid for not working. Civil Society please be real!

  3. Mr NICE you are right. True, Chief Khyungu is the worst leader I have observed. It seem he is the ring leader of any political mishap to the ruling party. I fear it could take ages to reform the Chiefs Act because its weakneness support the ruling party-but alas with our democracy!

  4. Tan'gatan'ga says:

    I agree with Nice, Malawian Chieftencies are supposed to be based on cultural values and norms, therefore a Tumbuka President cannot meddle in any Yao Chieftency issues. This is the reason why there are so many chietency squabbles in the country. As correctly said, the present Chief’s Act forces Chiefs to be loyal to the President, and therefore by extension control all cultural groups’ activities. For now, the Lomwe’s are in a way running Ngoni, Yao, and other tribes affairs including NAC funds.

    The Act must be amended as soon as possible in the interest of democracy, otherwise chieftencies must be abolished.

  5. Alfred Munduwabo says:

    Just abolish chief tenancy otherwise these are the most corrupt traditional tyrants. They sold their subjects to Arabs for salt , mirrors , guns and other favours.
    That’s a brave idea Ollen ,no matter you are a relative to the most corrupt chief Malawi has ever had in the history of Malawi .Malawians should look into this problem seriously , we don’t want greedy people like chiefs in Malawi.

  6. Bwantasa Gomdwe says:

    Komano inunso mafumu zomalowerera nkhani ya salary mwawonjeza mavuto si anu. Nanunso mupite ku school mukatengeko labour law yokha. Muzingodya zipwete kumudziko.

  7. Bwantasa Gomdwe says:

    I dont know whether Ollen is speaking strictly on yhe legallity of the Act.The Act should be reviewed on its own merits and not on what has happened. I dont think the drafters of the Act intended to make chiefs royal to their current leader. The process of making laws in parliament is clear and that is why there is votting to the bill. By the way are you a lawyer Ollen. I think what the chiefs had done was just a co incident to the provision on apoointment of the chiefs by the president. For your infirmation before an Act is debated in parliament there is a process of consultation from the general public. I presume that the people consulted during that period had wanted to avoid some issues and that may be the reason they gave head of state authority to appoint chiefs The Act was not made by the president and imposed it on people rather it was vice versa and the president signed the wishes of his people. I think I have brought some school to you ollen. Have a good day.

  8. Pichi says:

    So you mean Chiefs as Malawians have no right to voice their concerns. We were tired of the strikes at the courts. So if the employer does not have money and the employed cannot negotiate FIRE! and the govt goes on. Ahhh. And whosoever said low salaries or non implinentation of salary hikes is up to to the president akukunamizani. Rules of ecomony are simple you spend what you have basi, if you decide to borrow be ready to face the consequencies. Kumakhala patriotic nthawi zina is good. Lets review ma Acts on their own merit osati kumachita personalize ma reforms things will backfire on us.

    1. Jelbin mk says:

      Mr pichi issues between an employee n employer is settled by the two of them failure to reach an agreement the labour court intervenes not chiefs as was the case with ur dunderheaded chiefs, by the way being a citizen of a certain country does not warrant u every matter to be settled by you even those you have no no how about. These chiefs have enough disputes to settle at village level not to interfere on other matters that have nothing to do with chieftaincy and do you mean you as a citizen yourself can go to high court and preside over cash gate cases on the basis of being a citizen, or marsh to the High court and tell the judge the verdict he should render? You must be joking Mr pichi think twice before u comment here otherwise u expose ur naivety.

  9. Sagwa says:

    Akulu zikawapota ndichoncho

  10. mwahenga says:

    What does the Act say about BLOCk LEADERS/Chiefs?Change the Act, No Honorarium,no promotions,they must be in the village.

  11. Chilungamo Chimawawa says:

    mafumu adyela awa kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

  12. Muchizi John says:

    Ollen, the real problem is not the Act but the political leadership that believes chiefs are primarily their agents to shore up support in times of turmoil and/or elections. Even a nicely crafted legal instrument won’t prevent our mediocre political leadership from manipulating our vastly illiterate chiefs.

  13. Jelbin mk says:

    Nice you are as nice as your name and your observation we are even dictated in villages with these chiefs they give favours to people who are loyal to them they are inexperienced even in handling traditional cases, I suggest there should be elections in each and every village to elect chiefs within the Royal family so that people are led by someone they are happy with at local level so that democracy becomes meaningful otherwise in the current situation these chiefs are imposed on people even if the people do not need them and this is dictatorship on its best.

  14. Mafumu athu ambiri ndia Tidye Nawo. Mbuzi za anthu. Amene m’mati Kyunguyo ngakhale anasuzumilamo nkalasi koma n’chitselekwete. Nzeru zinatha ndi ukalamba, akufunika kukakhala ku Geriatric Nursing Home. Komanso ngofunika therapy/treatment ya Senile Dementia.

  15. Enet says:

    Stupid chiefs

  16. victim Chamkhuni Lwazazi says:

    In countries such as Tanzania, chiefs’ positions were abolished. The traditional areas are
    managed by committees. We can do the same in Malawi, whereby village decisions are
    collectively made by committees whose members are elected by the communities based on their integrity and merit.

  17. Kaka says:

    Amend to control elevation of every Jim n Jack as senior chiefs. A malpractice which was blindly practised by Joyce n Muluzi. Today we have so many chiefs more than the number of teachers or nurses in govt schools or hospitals respectively but for literally nothing. Some of the appointments must be reversed.

  18. mwewo woyiba says:

    Timely advice by NICE boss. Indeed we need to work on the chief’s act soonest. This would prevent the greedy chiefs in the likes of chief Lukwa and Kaomba all of Kasungu from acting as stooges of each president who comes in. To be precise or accurate they have stopped being chiefs but ruling party agents to get corrupt favours from the state president.

  19. Kaka says:

    Timely observation which needs urgent action on amending the Act. Another we can avoid is the chisawawa chokweza

  20. sothini says:

    This`s professional NICE BOSS , chief ur main role is to mediate by innert knowledges, check, `re ur decissions consistent?? Either are full of bias, nepotism, etc
    Keep silent, u `ve not studied even local labour laws: NATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL, NJE!!

  21. ujeni says:

    Malawi paramount chiefs spend most of their time travelling to the President House to eat offals. We dont need them

  22. Kenkkk says:

    The Act is outdated and indeed needs changing because Chiefs come from Royal families, they can only be appointed, promoted and removed through strict adherence to traditional methods within the tribe. The Tribe knows who should be chief and who should not through their own tribal succession methods developed over centuries.

    Anyone not member of the Royal families can’t be a chief, so the president can’t appoint anyone outside the Royal members to be a chief. Even within Royal family members, there is a procedure as to whose turn is it to be a chief. So the president cannot also just appoint anyone even within the Royal families to be a chief. It is complicated!!!

    The only part the president can control is the salary part but appointments, promotion and removal can only be done through traditional Methods within each tribe.

    Our Chiefs are exactly like the Royal family in UK, the govt doesn’t interfere apart from their salaries and expenses. The Royal family is therefore not affected by the govt of the day in terms of succession, appointment, promotion or removal of a member of the Royal family.

  23. Mlomwe12 says:

    A good obsevertion-otherwise kyungu and rest of the so called paramount chiefs have never employed non of the civil servants.

  24. Ngungudya says:

    True amfumu akachotse anthu ntchito azoloweradi

  25. Alfred says:

    Good and timely advice.bravo! NICE boss.

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