Malawi Pres. Joyce Banda faces contempt of court charges

Contempt of court charge is looming over Malawian President Joyce Banda after the State House announced she will be elevating Traditional Authority Chikowi of Zomba to senior chief despite an existing court injunction.

The President, globally hyped as a powerful woman as well as democrat, is expected to preside over the installation ceremony of Senior Chief Chikowi this Saturday, July 27th, at Mayaka Primary School Ground in the district.

However, the development comes when the Chikowi family obtained a court injunction restraining Mariam Saiti from being given the Chikowi chieftaincy by President Banda.

Lawyer of the distressed family, Wapona Kita, told the Daily Times an injunction was served to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the District Commissioner of Zomba, Harry Mtumbuka Phiri, and the president’s action was an open contempt of court.

President Banda : Defies court order
President Banda : Defies court order

“If the court rules that the person who is being elevated is not the rightful heir to the throne then we will start all over again,” Kita said.

According to a member of the family, Roselyn Mankhwala, an injunction was obtained to restrain Saiti from being installed T/A Chikowi through a Will left by the deceased former holder of the title because she is not from the chieftaincy lineage.

Mankhwala said the family was surprised with the president’s action because she was aware of the dispute but she was still going ahead with the ceremony.

She further said they feel betrayed with the president’s decision who has ignored their attempts to have an audience with them in order to intervene and mediate.

“The president is a close friend of our family from way back when we were living together in police lines in Zomba. When we exhausted all the channels to amicably settle the dispute, we requested to have an audience with her to mediate but she ignored all our communication.

“We now feel betrayed that she is going ahead to install the person who was chosen through a Will, which is not the process through which a successor is chosen,” Mankhwala explained.

She said the family was bitter with the president for ignoring all requests for her to intervene on the wrangle.

“We keep on asking ourselves, is she doing this out of spite? Does she hold a grudge with the Chikowi clan? That’s how we feel because why is she totally ignoring our request for her to mediate such an important dispute,” she was quoted by the paper.

The family member further explained that the Chikowi chieftaincy revolves around three families which are Harry Pemba clan, the Mtenda and Kumbembesha.

She said when Paramount Chief Chikowi, who was from the Pemba clan died, the three families, with the mediation of Chief Mlumbe, chose a candidate from the Mtenda clan and when he too died the chieftaincy then went to the Kumbembeshas.

Mankhwala said even the former President Bingu wa Mutharika knew of the dispute surrounding the chieftaincy and he requested the family to convene a meeting to resolve the controversy with Chief Mlumbe as the mediator.

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