Opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the civil society organisations (CSOs) have condemned Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development Grace Chiumia for threatening chiefs to support President Peter Mutharika or risk not being elevated.
The controversial Chiumia is reportedly to have made the threats at a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rally at Katoto in Mzuzu also attended by DPP secretary general Greselder Jeffrey and national campaign director Jappie Mhango on Saturday.
Chiumia warned the chiefs against siding with the opposition, saying that will not help them because it is Mutharika who has powers to elevate them, not the opposition and they should “support him wholeheartedly.”
MCP president, Lazarus Chakwera accused the Peter Mutharika administration of dragging chiefs into politics which, he said, is dividing the nation.
He emphasised the need to revise laws governing chiefs and Local Government, arguing that would ensure that chiefs operate in a free and independent environment.
“Do not use chiefs wrongly so that they operate against the wishes of their subjects. We want to see chiefs liberated. Gone are the days when a traditional leader would be penalised for talking to a leader in the opposition,” Chakwera said.
And deputy secretary general for MCP, Eisenhower Mkaka, said it was unfortunate that Chiumia, who is also DPP deputy chief whip in Parliament, was failing to separate government from cultural affairs.
He said as quoted by the press : “Chiefs should not be beaten into submission, they are traditional leaders and if they think that they can threaten chiefs into submission just to get support, then they are getting it wrong.
“The best lesson they could get is what we saw during the October 17 by-election when they used chiefs to threaten people but their subjects protested and voted otherwise. So they should know that in this time and era, people have learnt and that chiefs cannot tell them what to do.”.
Mzuzu-based Youth and Society (YAS) executive director Charles Kajoloweka and Timothy Mtambo of Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) have also condmened Chiumia for her threats , described as unfortunate, undemocratic and retrogressive.
Kajoloweka said chiefs should not be pushed to “lose their integrity because they are looking for promotions.”
He said garrulous Chiumia should tame her foul tongue as Mtambo said the remarks show that the minister is devoid of values and principles.
Recently , Chiumia also stirred controversy when she said government was against the proposed 50-plus-one system of electing the country’s President.
She is used as DPP’s attack dog.
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