Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa – who has ambitions to succeed President Peter Mutharika in power – has been in the headlines for “dangerous mission” for promoting two chiefs from mere village headmen to Traditional Authoriries (TA) in the Yao dominated district of Machinga in a move to expand Lhomwe influence, triggering anger from the Yaos.
According to Malawi News report, the elevation of two Lhomwe chiefs, Group Village Headman Saidi Mataka under Mlomba and Group Village Headman Nyumwanyumwa under Chamba in Machinga district has angered the Yao people, a development which is likely to trigger enmity between the two tribes.
“At the end of the day, this is an attempt by a government that has decided to act tribal in order to achieve political expediency, pushing through its strategy without thinking about its ramifications as it tries to create more influence for its most loved chief—Ngolongoliwa,” the newspaper said in its editorial comment.
A Yao grouping called Chiwanja cha Yao feels the move is the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) ploy to increase its chances of having followers in the Yao territory – Eastern Region.
“I want to sound a warning to whoever is mismatching the elevation. Let us not create a situation like that in Rwanda. People are reacting because there was no thorough consultation. This is why Kamuzu didn’t promote cultural groupings…he believed in unity, he had a vision. As a country, where are we drifting to? Let politics be politics and cultural practices should be left alone,” said Chairman for Chiwanja cha Yao, Mackennedy Yasini as quoted by Malawi News.
The papers editorial said every village in Malawi has its history that defines who is senior and who is not and the same applies to Machinga where the Peter Mutharika administration is trying to upset it all.
“No government since the colonial times has succeeded in changing these dynamics and structures using raw political power. Nankhumwa and DPP might think the move is putting them at an advantage politically. It is not, as what they are doing is pitting the few Lhomwe chiefs in Machinga against the majority ones that belong to the Lhomwe tribe.
That, in our book, is treading on dangerous ground. Worse still, it is an attempt to destabilize Malawi based on tribal lines,” the paper said.
Yao Paramount Chief Kawinga is said to have been bulldozed to elevate the two Lhomwe group village heads.