Nsanje chiefs angry with ‘sex for food’ report in Malawi press

Chiefs in Nsanje have reacted angrily to a survey report which says traditional leaders in Nsanje are soliciting sex from flood victim women in exchange for government donated relief food.

Jephter Mwanza: Conducted the survey

Chief Malemia: Silly report, Nsanje chies are not sex rats

Link for Citizen Empowerment (The Link), a women’s rights body working in Nsanje and several other districts in the country, said hungry and poor girls and women in Nsanje District are forced to sleep with some exploitative traditional leaders in exchange for humanitarian food.

Chief Malemia of Nsanje described the report, published in Weekend Nation newspaper, as silly and aimed at tarnishing the good image of chiefs in the district.

“There is no chief in Nsanje who engages in such malpractices, that is untrue and can never happen,” he said.

He said people should treat traditional leaders with honour and respect instead of sarcasm.

But Link for Citizen Empowerment director Jephter Mwanza, whose organisation carried out the survey, said this came out of the survey carried out in the district.

He therefore said the survey results stand.

Married women, too, are involved in the ‘sex-for-food’ scheme. One such woman, Christina Lobo, also from Mgona Village, said she was in a relationship with an aid worker to get double rations.

Said Lobo as quoted in Weekend Nation: “We offer sex to the elders to keep our positions as well as keep receiving double rations.”

In T/A Makhuwira in Chikwawa, one area development committee (ADC) chairperson, who comes from Chizenga Village, Group Village Head Chizenga, was found in a classroom having sex with a married woman.

Nsanje district commissioner (DC) Gift Rapozo said he is aware of such cases in the district concerning ‘abuses’ of women and girls in relation to relief food and cash although some women and girls are not aware that the malpractices constitute abuse.

However, he said a lot of people cannot come out in the open because chiefs use scare tactics to suppress their subjects.

Said Rapozo in quotes reported by Weekend Nation: “Chiefs are reported to sometimes make announcements to their subjects, threatening to deal with anyone reporting of such malpractices in their villages and this is preventing people from speaking out.”

While Secretary for Gender in the Ministry of Gender, Child Welfare Dr Mary Shawa condemned the malpractice.

Said Shawa: “These are sad developments, but we will need to raise awareness against such malpractices.”

Coincidentally, Nsanje is also where  an HIV-positive Malawian man was sentenced to 24 months in jail with hard labour for having unprotected sex with newly bereaved widows.

The practice of “widow cleansing”, when a widow must have sex after her husband dies, was outlawed a few years ago.

Eric Aniva, known in Malawi as a “hyena”, admitted to having sex with more than 100 women and girls and not disclosing his HIV status.

 

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9 thoughts on “Nsanje chiefs angry with ‘sex for food’ report in Malawi press”

  1. Kent Y.G. Mphepo says:

    Countrymen,
    I personally know Chief Malemia. I also personally know the research organization and those behind it. People like Mr. Mwanza are some of the cream in the country’s development arena. Apart from being my neighbour in Blantyre I have had the privilege of working alongside Chief Malemia in many forums particularly when he was a board member of the National AIDS Commission. He has worked closely with the organization that I worked for and I know what he thinks about culture and development in the Lower Shire. He is not an ordinary man. I always regard him as a powerful entry point to various developmental initiatives not only in the Lower Shire but the entire Chewa/Mang’anja/Nyanja ethnic group because, apart from being an intellectual himself, he is also a highly respectable and knowledgeable gatekeeper on Chewa/Mang’anja/Nyanja cultural issues. I personally have learnt a lot from him, not only because I come from his ethnic group, but also a fellow development practitioner. He is a well of knowledge on how development interacts with culture in the Lower Shire and let me inform those of us that are in the NGO sector that nothing tangible will take place in this corner of Malawi if chiefs of T/A Malemia’s stature and, indeed chiefs at any other level, are not part of our development agenda. We cannot wish him away.

    The matter being raised here is a very serious one and has a far reaching impact on our whole country. Claims of human rights abuses in a section of society and against key gatekeepers is a very emotive matter and those of us with information must ensure that all research procedures are followed knowing that human subjects research has the potential of having results contrary to our expectations. Society can easily close up and render all our efforts by government, and all development partners, useless. I work for an organization that has conducted and is currently conducting research on related issues and with this spat I am really getting worried. While I might not deny that issues raised here have some grain of truth, I would also be careful how I communicate the findings to key stakeholders such as chiefs who are highly respected by society – take it, leave it. And, knowing who Chief Malemia is, I personally don’t think that he is saying that traditional leaders in his area are perfect because no society is perfect. And, I don’t think that he is saying that the findings are completely false. His main concern is the purpose of the study, the methodology used and the manner and language in which results are being disseminated. Actually, I also had similar concerned when I ready the report in the media. I have a feeling that what he is saying is a shared opinion among chiefs in the Lower Shire that research agents must be careful with the manner in which research results are disseminated to the wider society.

    The questions I have are:
    1. What was the aim of the study?
    2. What methodology(ies) was (were) used?
    3. What ethical considerations were put in perspective?
    4. How were results disseminated?
    5. Were key gatekeepers like Paramount Chief Lundu, Tengani, Chapananga, etc and expert chiefs like Malemia, part of the whole process?
    6. What damage control mechanisms will now be put in place following this backlash?

    The human-centered approach is, in my view, the best tool Malawi needs to use if one day we are going to solve our many problems. Gate keepers, such as Chief Malemia, are critical in this regard.

    End piece:

    I am getting worried with the way we Malawians are behaving in the social media era. I feel that we can do better. Kutukwanana like we are doing here is not going to take us anywhere. Let’s remember that no one will develop our country apart from us collectively. I personally feel that the social media is a powerful development tool that, if properly used, can become a perfect market place for ideas for national development. I have had the privilege of participating on social media platforms and I have a first hand personal experience on how our friends in other parts of the world are using the social media to advance society but what I am reading here is very sad and it only shows that we still have many years to develop as a country. Let’s begin to be open to each other and speak truth to issues that our country is facing right now.

    I rest my case.

    Kent Y.G. Mphepo – Blantrye

    1. che nnungu says:

      Bad governance constitutes to lots of mess in the society. THose governing us should clean up their mess and then even the social media will clean up

  2. moya says:

    As much I might not agree with what the chief is saying….It is also high time Malawian we should scrutinize the veracity of the survey findings…..This is not an independent organization which can come up with the right findings….Remember these are interested organization…..they need money out of the findings they have publicized here….. anyway I might only agree with them if I might have an opportunity of looking at their methodology…… I rest my case

  3. Igwe says:

    Wa mkachisi amadya zamkachisi. Komanso akazi a ku Nsanje nyere too much iiiii! Mwangolakwitsa kumati ‘malpractice’. This is what Nsanje women enjoy. Ndiye amanyekhula sizinaoneke

  4. getrude says:

    Chief Malemia, you dont stay in Nsanje. You stay in Blantyre, How come you refute the allegations made here. This is true, its happening. Inu simungadzidziwe chifukwa ana anu sali mu Malawi Muno. They are outside, Ireland. Find out from those that rely on Food relief items. Inutu ana anu sangapite kumeneko coz ndiopeza bwino. NDIPONSO INU NDI aBUSA NENAZI ZOONZ APAAAAAAA???????????????

  5. bullets says:

    this is indeed a poor chief with a chicken head. how would u refute claims ur friends accept they happen? did u investigate to come up with that denial statement? u are a disgrace to the people of Nsanje instead of listening to the voice of reason you rush to refute made public by the victims

  6. Dusty says:

    Why always these old fashioned Chiefs ask for respect from the common man.What’s so special with idiots.You want the public to hide your rotten behaviour in the name of respect.

  7. George says:

    Poor brother Malemia, first you should thank the report for the revelation of the filthy and dirty game tarnishing your posts. Second you should condemn those involved in satanic game. Having done that you should go, investigate, do a study, have the proof for yourself and help the government in in aresting the situation by punishing all those involved rather than simply rushing at those who I believe have come out with research and some evidences, otherwise we will not understand you!! Be responsible, otherwise defending culprits without evidence you are downing yourself and that means you are unfit for the post you hold. Have a nice day.

  8. C 10 says:

    Haaaa !

    koma chimalemia chingowona kukana .
    Pachithuzipa chikuwonetsa ngati ndi chanyere kwabasi .

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