Stand up against abuse, JB tells chiefs

Traditional Chiefs have been urged to stand up against state-sponsored abuse where among other things, they are paraded on the state-owned Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) television and radio to sing praises for the Bingu wa Mutharika’s regime and denigrate the state vice president Joyce Banda.

Speaking when she addressed her People’s Party (PP) public rally at Bua Primary School in Mchinji, Banda revealed that most traditional chiefs either visit her or make phone call to alert her whenever they have been hired to castigate the vice president on state television and radio.

“However, today I wish to encourage you to stand up against this blatant abuse of your authority,” said the PP leader amid a deafening applause and ululation from the hundreds of followers, most of whom clad in PP’s official orange attire.

“Yes, I always appreciate your initiative to alert me whenever you are invited to castigate me and other opposition elements, including the civil society, but you should go beyond that by telling them off,” said Banda, fondly called JB.

Banda: Get up and stand for your rights!

She said culturally, traditional chiefs in Malawi deserved unconditional respect and reverence and as such it was an insult for authorities in government to abuse the nation’s traditional custodians merely to gain political mileage.

Banda noted that it is only when political freedom exists in a country that its citizens can meaningfully achieve social and economic freedom.

She noted that where there is economic freedom, employment opportunities increase and that the general livelihood improves as people can afford basic life necessities.

The first woman state vice president in Malawi then bemoaned the authorities’ forceful and dictatorial change of the national flag from the one that bore a half sun to a full one, saying Malawi had not experienced full-circle social and economic development as claimed by Mutharika and his regime.

In that regard, Banda said that when the People’s Party forms the next government in 2014, it shall bring back the old flag to be at par with the social and economic realities on the ground.

She went on to bemoan the low prices that the country’s tobacco was fetching at the auction floors when in other neighbouring countries, the same crop is fetching relatively higher rate.

Banda challenged authorities to find solutions to this anomaly, noting that the prevailing status quo on tobacco prices has had a negative economic impact on Malawians, particularly those in the tobacco growing districts in the central region, including Mchinji, and other districts.

Banda said when the PP forms government in 2014; it shall discourage “old farming methods” but formulate modern agricultural policies, particularly introducing mechanized farming methods among smallholder farmers.

“In order to avoid the current chaotic and controversial management of the farm input and seeds subsidy, we at PP, shall advocate for the defunct Farmer Clubs in order to ensure transparency and accountability,” she said, noting that the current system is ridden with abuse and corruption.

At the meeting, several PP leaders spoke including secretary general Henry Chibwana, provincial governor for the centre

Kizito Ngwembe and national women’s director Clara Makungwa. Senior officials in attendance included national publicity director, Stephen Mwenye, religious affairs director Reverend Malani Mtonga, executive member, Emmanuel Chimkwita Phiri and national campaign director Phillipo Ngopi.

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