North Chiefs want law banning freebies

Chiefs in the northern region have asked the Malawi Electoral Commission  (MEC) to push for legislation that will bar the distribution of handouts during electioneering saying such practices influences people to elect bad leaders.

Traditional Authority Mwilang’ombe of Karonga District said this during a daylong meeting for the validation of the Chiefs’ Code of Conduct during campaigning held at Mzuzu Hotel on Tuesday.

“That law will help Malawi have free and fair elections for the unforeseeable future,” Mwilang’ombe said.

Commissioner Mezuwa Banda said there will be sensitisation

Commissioner Mezuwa Banda said there will be sensitisation

All Chiefs (Paramount and Traditional Authorities) or their representatives signed the code which is meant to guide them to conduct themselves impartially as Malawi is preparing for the May 20th Tripartite elections.

Among other things the code spells out the rights and responsibilities of Chiefs and the role of the Malawi Electoral Commission.

However, Commissioner Reverend Mezuwa Banda, who was guest of honoUr at the meeting, said MEC will make a moral appeal to politicians to desist from giving handouts.

He did not say when.

“Equally people should be told that they are not obliged to receive such handouts,” Reverend Banda said.

During a plenary many Chiefs were not comfortable with a clause that said they had no powers or responsibility to stop candidates, political parties or their supporters from conducting meetings in their jurisdictions.

“This is inconceivable. Should we just sit idle and allow people whom we know are disorganized to disturb peace. This clause removes our powers,” said Senior Chief Mmbwana of Nkhata Bay district.

A representative of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development James Manyetera concurred saying the clause downgraded chiefs by reducing their powers.

But Northern Region Police Commissioner Paul Kanyama said legally Chiefs do not grant permission for the holding of political meetings but are recipients of such decisions from the District Commissioner or the Police.

“We will be breaking the law if Chiefs have that power,” Kanyama said.

The Police Chief said it is also a security risk if Chiefs create a ‘no go zone’ area for candidates or political parties.

“Let’s have integrity in our work” he said.

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