A national peace conference in Lilongwe on Tuesday turned unpeaceful as three powerful chiefs walked out in protest against a politician’s remark who described some traditional leaders as stooges of government and operatives of the ruling party.
Senior Chief Kachindamoto, Paramount Chiefs Lundu and Kyungu stormed out of the conference, declaring that they could not be insulted by a politician following Alliance for Democracy (Aford) representative at the meeting, David Katete’s observation.
Said Kyungu: “As chiefs, we cannot be allowed to be insulted by politicians. We, traditional leaders, work for the government of the day.”
Senior Chief Kachindamoto said they walked out because they were not happy with the afternoon’s plenary session
Lundu refused to comment, saying the media always misquotes him.
Lhomwe Paramount Chief Ngolongoliwa, Paramount Chief Lundu and Paramount Chief Kyungu openly support the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and get special favours from President Peter Mutharika and the DPP.
Katete’s remark followed a presentation by Church and Society of Livingstonia Synod’s Moses Mkandawire who said some chiefs can be a recipe for political violence because they side with certain political parties instead of being neutral as their office entails them to be.
He gave an example of some chiefs who parade on state controlled Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) to hurl insults at opposition figures, saying this was unacceptable in a democracy.
UNDP officials said the office has flown in a special advisor on mediation to increase capacity of the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) on mediation skills.
PAC chairperson Felix Chingota welcomed the mediation expert and thanked the organisers of the conference, saying it has come at a right time before the highly contentious tripartite elections in May.
Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) executive secretary David Nungu said he was optimistic the discussion would yield positive results in the run-up to May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
The leading daily newspaper, The Nation, in its extended coverage of the conference through an editorial comment, welcomes the conflict prevention meeting.
“What is needed now is to translate the rhetoric of conflict prevention into concrete action if bloodshed is to be averted,” reads the comment.
The paper says the meeting should not just be a photo opportunity to show that government is doing something rather it should be the launch pad for action to prevent conflicts.
It said perpetrators of violence must be dealt with decisively without thinking about their political affiliation.
Security organs have been urged to only be loyal to the national flag , not political party identities.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :