Chief Ngolongoliwa in Lhomwe expansion
The Lhomwe ethnic grouping is arguably the most influential tribe in Malawi at the moment.
Their political power is embedded in the Presidency and the influence of the Mulhako wa Lhomwe grouping.
But, as we found out, this is not enough. The ethnic grouping wants more territory in the Southern Region and Machinga District, predominantly Yao speaking, is the target.
Malawi News investigations reveal that the Lhomwe Paramount Chief Ngolongoliwa is leading the expansion drive and has already met Traditional Authorities Chamba and Mlomba of Machinga, asking them to cede part of their territories.
Ngolongoliwa, who was picked from relative obscurity as a Group Village Headman (GVH) to become Paramount Chief within a period of three years, has been leading the charge to push two Yao chiefs into falling in line.
But Ngolongoliwa is not doing it alone. We found out that he has the backing of the DPP government.
In extensive interviews with the TAs in Machinga, we found out that Ngolongoliwa has the backing of Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.
The Machinga chiefs told Malawi News that they have been asked to cede part of their respective areas by elevating some Group Village Headmen into becoming Sub Traditional Authorities.
The chiefs being pushed to be elevated are Group Village Headman Saidi Mataka under Traditional Authority Mlomba and Group Village Headman Nyumwanyumwa under Chamba.
The two chiefs are Lhomwe chiefs under the jurisdiction of Yao Traditional Authorities
According to the Chiefs Act, the powers to elevate Group Village Head (GVH) into a Sub TA rests in the hands of the responsible Traditional Authorities and not otherwise.
But Government can elevate a Sub TA into a full Traditional Authority without consultation.
And this is what Ngolongoliwa wants.
But, as we found out, Chamba and Mlomba are resisting the moves.
Speaking in an interview on Wednesday this week, Mlomba accused Ngolongoliwa of wanting to disrupt the coexistence that has been there between the Yao and Lhomwe tribes and interfering in the affairs of Yao people.
Mlomba said as a Traditional Authority, he is aware of procedures which are followed when appointing a Group Village Headman into a Sub Traditional Authority.
He said he has refused to bow down to the demands by Ngolongoliwa and the Ministry of Local Government to lose part of his area to somebody who originally is not from the Yao tribe.
“All along Yaos and Lhomwes have been living in harmony. But now they want to create enemity between us through dubious elevation of some chiefs into traditional authorities. We will not bow down to this because we know this is political,” Mlomba said.
Mlomba and Chamba, revealed that they were surprised to see government officials comprising the Principal Secretary for Local Government Kiswell Dakamau, Director for Chiefs Administration Charles Thombozi, and District Commissioner for Machinga Bester Mandele forcing them to sign letters which were approving the appointment of the two GHVs as STAs.
The two chiefs said they refused to sign the letters.
Mandele confirmed the ongoing wrangle between the two chiefs [Chamba and Mlomba] and the Ministry about the elevation of some GHVs to Sub TAs.
He, however, said the issue has not reached at a stage where his office could comment.
“I cannot comment now because I did not expect that the issue will now be in the hands of the media. But you can contact the PS or director of chiefs administration because they are the ones handling the matter at the moment,” said Mandele.
When contacted, Thombozi declined to say more on the matter saying Ministry of Local Government spokesperson Muhlabase Mughogho can comment further.
Currently Mughogho is yet to respond to a questionnaire which was sent to her after she requested for one.
Ngolongoliwa denied being involved, saying he cannot poke his nose into issues to do with elevation of chiefs within other Traditional Authorities.
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