By Garvey Karvei, Nyasa Times
A senior chief from President Bingu wa Mutharika’s backyard, the Southern Region of Malawi, has pleaded with the Malawi Government to stop abusing traditional leaders by, among other things, parading them in public media and at other functions to drum up political support.
According to Malawi’s flagship daily, The Nation, the unnamed chief – who for obvious reasons preferred anonymity – lamented that traditional leaders have lost the respect they used to enjoy among their people because they “are being used for political reasons in the name of development.”
Senior Chief Kaomba of Kasungu, always one to side with the ones greasing his hands, has rubbished the chiefs assertions saying that traditional leaders are free to decline commenting on issues they do not feel comfortable about.
Chief Kaomba did not elaborate exactly how a chief can decline governments overtures without finding himself in the shoes of Chief Mponda of Balaka District, who for his troubles, was paraded naked among his subjects by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) operatives in the presence of Dr. Hetherwick Ntaba – the presidential spokesperson and other senior DPP leaders who included women like Patricia Kaliati.
The chief is quoted saying:”What is happening these days is demeaning to the role of traditional leaders. It is embarrassing that we are being used to speak things against our conscience on MBC radio and television. Please help us to tell government to leave us alone. We are tired of this embarrassment. Chiefs were there and will be there when governments change. We should not be slaves just because of the money they give us.”
Chiefs in Malawi have under the Mutharika administration been paraded on MBC to endorse the unpopular flag change, ratify the candidacy of Peter Mutharika, and of late to boost government anti-demonstrations propaganda.
The senior chief stated that while there are some chiefs close to political powers who are in the forefront fuelling the abuse, many traditional leaders, are not happy especially in the light of the deteriorating state of affairs in Malawi.
The stance taken by the chiefs to support even plainly unpopular policies has come at a cost to some chiefs; Chief Kalonga for example was among the people targeted by angry mobs for their blind loyalty.
The Chief explained that many traditional leaders are forced to comply due to fear of losing their positions as there have been increasing cases of government interference in chieftaincy matters where a chief has been perceived as being out of line.
With Mutharika’s hold on power becoming increasingly tenacious, the Chiefs are more likely to face even more abuse and pressure to toe DPP line and promote DPP interests when ideally, constitutionally and traditionally, they are supposed to be non-partisan.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :