District Commissioner for Zomba Emmanuel Bambe has warned chiefs in the district that they will face suspension or removal from their positions if held accountable for abuse of relief items or any assistance intended for needy beneficiaries.
He made the remarks Saturday during a meeting when stakeholders in the district complained that some chiefs in the district were demanding money from beneficiaries under various programmes being implemented through Non-Governmental Organizations including humanitarian relief items.
The District Commissioner revealed that recently some chiefs such as Group Village Head Nkasala have been suspended by Senior Chief Mlumbe after reports of abuse of several humanitarian relief items meant for food insecure households.
He said he had various reports that some chiefs are soliciting money and relief items from beneficiaries, saying he will follow all the procedures laid out in the chiefs ACT to fire such chiefs.
Bambe clarified that, “The District Commissioner has no mandate to suspend Group Village Headperson (GVH), but can recommend such suspension or removal through Senior Chief or a traditional authority leader who is higher than the one being disciplined or refer the matter to local government in case of Paramount Chief, Senior Chief, Chief or Sub-Chief according to the Chiefs ACT.”
The Chiefs Act only states that, “A Chief may appoint such number of Group Village Headmen and Village Headmen as he may consider necessary to assist him in carrying out his functions and the functions of a Group Village Headman and a Village Headman shall be to assist the Chief or Sub-Chief by whom he is appointed in the performance of his functions and to bring to the notice of that Chief or Sub-Chief any matter in his village or group of villages which is relevant to such functions.
The Chiefs Act also empowers the president to remove any person from the office of Paramount Chief, Senior Chief, Chief or Sub-Chief through writing under his hand if after due inquiry he is satisfied that— the person has ceased to be entitled under customary law to hold such office; the person has lost the confidence of the majority of the people residing in his area; or such removal is necessary in the interests of peace, order and good government.
Chairperson for Zomba District council, Chikumbutso Likandawe said the council has vowed to stamp out all kinds of corruption at all levels calling both government and civil society to work hand in hand and be accountable and transparent in the implementation of their activities while deterring corrupt practices.
Zomba Disaster Affairs Officer, Florence Harawa said Non GovernmentalOranization (NGOs) such as Save the Children and World Vision have been doing a great job in assisting the needy in the district’s humanitarian area, but if the trend by some crazy traditional leaders of soliciting money or relief items from beneficiaries continues their projects will be compromised at the end because the intended goals will not be achieved.
Abuse of humanitarian relief items by chiefs in the country is the order of the day almost in each and every district, yet NGOs tasked to distribute the items strictly report the traditional leaders to police due to humanitarian policy, where abusers especially chiefs are not reported to law enforcers leaving the option for disciplinary actions through councils.
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