Nkhata-bay chiefs blast PP officials over relief maize distribution exercise

Traditional leaders in Malawi’s northern district of Nkhata-bay lost their cool on Friday and described President Joyce Banda’s relief food distribution exercise as a ruling party’s ploy to enrich themselves at the expense of poor people.

Group Village headman Chandira from the area of Traditional Authority Timbiri in the district was reacting to what he said unfair maize distribution exercise which the ruling People’s Party (PP) elite was conducting at Nkhata Bay jetty.

During the exercise the PP district committee officials were the ones dictating the conduct of the exercise sidelining District Council officials and traditional a development which shocked most people who flooded Nkhata Bay jetty.

“As chiefs we are surprised that politicians are in the forefront in the whole process as if they’re the ones living with people, again, we have been told that every village will go away with seven bags but the party members are going away with one bag each, is that fair?” questioned a highly charged Group Village headman Chandira.

Receiving maize  from President Joyce Banda
Receiving maize from President Joyce Banda

Nyasa Times established that about six hundred bags of maize were supplied at Nkhata Bay town to be distributed to the most hunger hit victims from forty seven traditional leaders in the area of Traditional Authority Timbiri, but to the surprise of chief and their subjects each village was getting seven bags of maize which were being shared among fourteen people.Despite this, hundreds of people returned to their homes empty handed after being told by the officials that they were not on the beneficiaries list.

“I am very disappointed with this, how can they tell us that we are not on the list yet they are keeping the remaining bags of maize for themselves? I wish government should have investigated and find out the truth otherwise we will continue suffering in silence”, complained an old woman who claimed is looking after nine orphans.

Surprisingly each party was going away with a bag of maize while the intended beneficiaries were sharing one bag.

The ruling PP’s District Chairperson James Thawi who championed the exercise and was reportedly taken several bags of maize for himself. He however declined to comment when Nyasa Times approached him to explain the whereabouts of the remaining 271 bags of maize.

But TA Mkumbira’s Area Development Committee Vice Chairperson, Mavuto Kaunda who was among the top distributing officials claimed that the remaining bags were distributed to government departments such as Nkhata Bay Prison and Nkhata Bay district hospital.

“We have distributed hundred bags to the prison and the hospital and others to another Traditional Authority, it was not all for us,” he claimed.

Kaunda also said those who went away with full bags were those involved in casual labor like as offloading the bags from trucks and this was just a token of appreciation.

But prison and hospital officials denied having received any bag of maize from the said officials.

“We are not beneficiaries of the said relief items and we have never been approached about it, we are buying maize and other food stuffs ourselves”, said a top official at the Nkhata Bay prison who spoke on conditions of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Reports indicate that some of the PP members are selling the bag of relief maize at K5, 000 each.

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