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Chief Ngolongoliwa gets spotlight in Parliament

Paramount Chief Ngolongoliwa of Thyolo on Wednesday came into the spotlight in Parliament when legislators wondered how he has risen from a village head to paramount chief within three years.

This was after Kasungu South East Member of Parliament (MP) Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda and Balaka North MP Lucius Banda took Local Government Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa to task to explain how chiefs are elevated.

But Nankhumwa assured Kandodo Chiponda—who had initially asked if the government follows culture when promoting chiefs—that all procedures are followed to the letter.

“In the case of Chief Ngolongoliwa, the ministry received a request and an invitation from Lhomwe chiefs that they wanted to have their own paramount chief and we, as a ministry, just facilitated the process,” he said.

Nankhumwa said the same happened before Paramount Chief Kawinga was elevated, saying Yao chiefs wrote the ministry requesting that they should have their own paramount chief.

However, Banda asked for specific criterion used to elevate chiefs but Nankhumwa said it was at the discretion of the Head of State.

As Nankhumwa was giving the response, opposition Malawi Congress Party legislators interjected, saying a chief should not be paraded on state radio to embarrass the opposition.

Answering a question from Mzimba West MP Harry Mkandawire regarding delays in payment of honoraria for chiefs despite funds being allocated in the budget, Nankhumwa said the Treasury transfers the funds for honoraria in time.

“When the funds are transferred and are due for payment, most of the councils withhold the payments owing to the unavailability of funds with which to administer the payments,” Nankhumwa said.

He said the problem has been exacerbated by a technical hitch in the processing of chiefs data within the Human Resources Information Management System due to the increasing number of chiefs over time.

Nankhumwa said his ministry has, therefore, communicated to the councils to be setting aside part of the other recurrent transactions for administrative costs to enable them effect the payments immediately funds are transferred.

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