PP hires chiefs to defend JB on maize handouts

The ruling Peoples Party (PP) on Friday involved traditional chiefs to back-up President Joyce Banda’s practice of giving out handouts especially maize at political rallies.

The party hired 11 chiefs from southern region led by Paramount Chief Lundu to defend President Banda’s continuous tendency of giving out maize at a time when the country’s grain-marketer, Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) is rationing maize due to short supply.

On Friday the chiefs converged at Motel Paradise in Blantyre in an impromptu press briefing organized and funded by PP to declare their support towards President Banda.

Chiefs: Being used by PP
Chiefs: Being used by PP

The chiefs presented at the press briefing included T/A Chimaliro of Thyolo, T/A Chikumbu of Mulanje, Senior Chief Kapeni and T/A Machinjiri both from Blantyre, T/A Mlumbe of Zomba and Senior Chief Malemia of Chikhwawa and others.

Reading their statement, Paramount Chief Lundu attacked Civil Society groupings and individuals who are against President Banda’s maize handouts, arguing the practice was only solution to ease the country’s worsening hunger situation.

Lundu argued that it was the traditional leaders who proposed to President Banda to embark on countrywide maize handouts distribution, and dismissed doubts surrounding the source of the grain.

“We approached the President to ask for help. We urged her to find funds or assistance from those willing to help with maize to save our subordinates from hunger because the situation is worsening,” explained Lundu.

He added: “We don’t have any doubt well-wishers are the ones donating the maize. We therefore ask those against the maize handouts to stop because the system is benefiting our subordinates and everyone in the country; and we chiefs are happy with it”.

Quizzed if were used by State machinery as propaganda tool, Lundu defended their stance, arguing the maize handout practice started years back and could not end now.

“Kamuzu even Bakili Muluzi did the same, therefore it is not strange, and it is unwise to call for the President to stop the practice now. Let those against the idea to start doing the same if we are to overcome the current hunger situation,” he argued.

PP deputy Publicity Secretary, Ken Msonda denied the party hired the chiefs as part of its propaganda strategy to defend President Banda especially at the time when Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) and delegates to the recent Public Affairs Committee (Pac) were against handouts.

“The chiefs were exercising their constitutional right; it has nothing to do with PP. My office has no idea of who funded or organized the press briefing,” claimed Msonda despite his office being the one that invited the media to the briefing, which Nyasa Times attended.

Consumers Association of Malawi recently bemoaned President Banda’s continued maize handouts at political rallies, describing the tendency as shame and abuse of consumer rights.

And delegates to Pac’s third all-inclusive stakeholders’ conference proposed a need to criminalize act of giving handouts to deter the tendency, which is killing hard working spirit amongst the Malawians.

Surprisingly, President Banda boasts of having hoard of grain and is not disclosing where it was sourced despite calls by political and civil society groupings

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