Nkhatabay chiefs protest against JB visit to Chikwina

Chiefs in the northern Malawi’s lakeshore area of Usisya in Nkhata-bay district are raged with anger and disappointment over President Joyce Banda’s decision to visit Chikwina instead of earlier schedule of visiting Usisya which is the headquarters of the area, during her northern region tour which is expected to start on Monday.

President Banda is among other things expected to launch development projects and holds political rallies in various places in the region, including Nkhatabay, where according to earlier reports, was supposed to visit the tourism attraction Usisya area and headquarters of Senior Chief Themba M’bwana.

However, Banda has abruptly changed the program from holding a rally at Usiska to Chikwana which is several kilometers away from the later.

Reports indicate that the area’s parliamentarian, Ephraim Mganda Chiume has influenced the president to change her earlier program on political grounds.

Chiume: Influencing events
Chiume: Influencing events

“As chiefs we are very disappointed with the development and we want the president to maintain her earlier program and not the current one which we believe has been influenced by our MP”, group Village Headman Mulwa who was among several traditional leaders complained to the Nyasa Times.

The chiefs allege that Chiume, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs, diverted the President’s visit to Chikwina because he fears supporters of business man and cum-politician Watson Katawa Nyasulu, who is aspiring to contest in 2014.

But Chiume denied having any knowledge on the matter when contacted by our reporter.

“That’s news to me and I can’t make a comment on that because I know nothing about that, again, the HE program was done at the OPC and not by me so why accusing me?”, questioned Chiume in a phone interview.

But the local leaders maintained that the MP is behind the diversion of the program.

“What is surprising us as chiefs is that Katawa Nyasulu  bought a cattle for the Usisya community to present to her Excellency to appreciate for visiting us but Honourable Chiume banned us from presenting it to the President for unknown reasons, and we feel it’s because it has come from his opponent”, Mulwa said.

When contacted, Senior Chief Themba M’bwana also expressed disappointment on the matter, and asked  President Banda to reconsider her decision and follow her earlier program.

“Though I am not much aware of the program but I want to share the views of my subordinates as well because we have high population here that Chikwina” said the Senior Chief.

Senior Chief Themba M’bwana said there are over 16 000 people in Usisya while in Chikwina there are only less than 1,500 “so we tend to wonder between the two areas which one is the HE expected to prioritize during her visit?”

Nyasulu, who has been representing people of the northern region as concerned citizens on several issues including exploration of oil in Malawi and the last Consumers Association of Malawi demonstrations, is said to be at loggerheads with the incumbent MP since he started gaining more support from the youth and the marginalized in Usiska.

“It is my hope that President Joyce Banda will understand the cries of her chiefs and resolve the matter” Nyasulu said.

Meanwhile, reports indicate that some youths in Usiska have banned Chiume from holding party activities in the area.

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