Nsanje North leaders petition JB: Want Mcheka-Chilenje back from embassy

Nsanje North traditional leaders and other constituents have written President Joyce Banda demanding her to withdraw the area’s former Member of Parliament, Esther Mcheka Chilenje Nkhoma, from a diplomatic mission in the United States of America (USA).

President Joyce Banda appointed Mcheka Chilenje Nkhoma last year as Malawi’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in USA.

But the concerned people want their former legislator to contest again in the forth coming tripartite elections arguing she was a development conscious leader during her tenure.

Mcheka-Chilenje was elected Member of Parliament for the area on Republican Party (RP) ticket during the bloody and controversial 2004 elections and was subsequently elected First Deputy Speaker of the Malawi National Assembly.

Deputy Ambasador for Malawi to the UN, Esther Mcheka Chilenje, with President Joyce Banda in New York recently- pic by Lisa Vintulla
Deputy Ambasador for Malawi to the UN, Esther Mcheka Chilenje, with President Joyce Banda in New York recently- pic by Lisa Vintulla

She lost her seat in 2009 to current Parliamentarian, Frank Viyazyi, from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

According to the petition seen by Nyasa times, the people in the area urges Banda to recall the former MP because they want her services more than what she is currently doing for the nation.

The petition, which bears Chief Mlolo’s stamp, has been signed by 13 Group Village Headmen (GVHs) and 108 villagers. Among them are Makhapha, Clemence, Mphwiri, Ngena, Mchacha James and Chitseko.

“We write to request your Excellency to release our former Member of Parliament Esther Mcheka Chilenje Nkhoma who is on diplomatic mission in the United States of America (USA). We want her to contest for parliamentary position in our constituency in the 2014 elections.

“We know that you entrusted her with the diplomatic position, however, we need her services most,” reads part of the petition dated September 23, 2013.

The petition was sent to the president through the Nsanje District Commissioner (DC), Harry Phiri and copied to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Mcheka Chilenje.

A group of over 40 people, who signed the petition, last week stormed Nsanje DC’s office to present it.

The signatories claim Mcheka Chilenje initiated various developmental projects in the area such as irrigation farming, school blocks and teacher houses.

“The lady was developmental conscious unlike the incumbent Member of Parliament [Frank Viyazi]. Since Chilenje ceased to be our legislator, the area has achieved no meaningful development,” Billy Bilisimu and Loyd Gauti told Nyasa Times after presenting the letter.

While acknowledging receiving the petition, Nsanje DC Harry Phiri said he had no knowledge with regard to the contents of the petition as it was addressed to the President.

However, Phiri assured the constituents that the letter would be sent to the president for action.

Efforts to speak to Mcheka Chilenje for her reaction proved futile as her mobile phone went unanswered despite several attempts.

The former deputy speaker of Parliament was previously married to Commissioner of Prisons, Kennedy Nkhoma, but the high profile marriage did not last due to what sources described as bad blood between Esther and her step children.

But the incumbent Member of Parliament for the area, Frank Viyazyi, said he was not shaken with the development.

“It is not true to say I am not development conscious. I have achieved a lot during my tenure. For instance Sankhulani Trading Centre has electricity now.

“I believe what is happening is a political gimmick aimed at tarnishing my image so that somebody gains political mileage,” Viyazyi claimed.

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