President Banda throws party to Yao chiefs

President Joyce Banda Wednesday advised traditional leaders in the country to look forward to the forthcoming year with renewed energy and focus on the nation’s prosperity.

President Banda was speaking at Chikoko Bay State Lodge, Monkey Bay in Mangochi when she hosted Yao Chiefs drawn from nine districts of Mangochi, Machinga, Dedza, Blantyre, Zomba, Balaka, Chiradzulu, Mulanje and Salima to a Christmas Box Luncheon.

“I would like to start by recognizing the important role chiefs have played in the country, particularly from the time I assumed the reins of power in April.

“We’ve co-exited and implemented development programmes together which should prevail in the coming year,” said Banda.

Yao chiefs feasting with the President at Chikoko Bay , Mangochi

The Malawian leader also asked the chiefs to provide her government with wise counsel so that her leadership should be dynamic and visionary in a bid to help the country’s economic recovery plan turn with ease.

She said government has prioritized two key programmes to resuscitate the country’s ailing economy, among others, empowering farmers to cultivate crops twice a year as opposed to once using the traditional rain-fed agriculture.

“My government has sourced US$68 million (about K2.2 billion) for irrigation farming from the European Union. I would like to see smallholder farmers cultivate not only staple food crops, but also other cash crops from April on wards.

“I’ve directed officials in the agriculture sector to look at all the areas with already laid down infrastructure to revive some of the programmes initiated by my predecessors. Some of these include a cow for a family programme,” she pointed out.

On her food distribution exercise, Banda said it is unfortunate that her critics are hard on her with the intervention, noting that it is illogical for any leader with a heart for her subjects to sit back when her followers are reeling under severe hunger and poverty.

She, therefore, reaffirmed her commitment to continue with the distribution until people harvest their crop produce.

She added that government has embarked on the distribution of various legume seed under the presidential initiative on poverty and hunger reduction to act as a cushion in times of erratic rains which are partly to blame for the low crop production in most parts of the country, due to climate change.

Commenting on media reports about the suspension of Chiefs Kilupula and Chimombo of Karonga and Nsanje respectively, Banda said government had arrived at the decision following a spate of reports of abuse of office by the two traditional leaders on their subjects.

Banda urged Yao chiefs to identify someone who could be appointed as a Paramount and get organized in terms of the Yao cultural identity like other cultures and traditions.

In her remarks, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Grace Maseko commended the president for empowering chiefs in a number of important programmes including the safe motherhood initiative and the public works.

“Above all, it is the empowerment of chiefs to take a leading role in self-help activities and other equally important development programmes that has restored the confidence of people in their traditional leaders,” Maseko observed.

In his remarks, Senior Chief Kadewere commended the President for the invitation to the luncheon on Christmas Box. Kadewere also thanked her for reversing the decision by government for chiefs to draw their wages through their respective headquarters as opposed to banks which has restored their dignity.

President Banda addressing the chiefs at Chikoko Bay

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