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Chiefs’ attack on Pac angers civil society

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TRADITIONAL leaders who recently attacked the Public Affairs Committee (Pac) for declaring that President Peter Mutharika has failed to steer this country out of governance malaise have been condemned for apparently abrogating their responsibilities.

Human rights activists led by Executive Director of the Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), Gift Trapence, yesterday accused the traditional leaders of engaging in partisan politics.

On Thursday last week, 18 chiefs and paramount chiefs accused Pac of speaking for itself and not Malawians when the quasi-religious body recently delivered a failure verdict on Mutharika.

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The traditional leaders included paramount chiefs Ngolongoliwa of Thyolo, Lundu of Chikwawa, Kyungu of Karonga and Chitipa, Kawinga of Machinga, and senior chiefs Dambe of Mchinji, Tsabango of Lilongwe, Timbiri and Fukamapiri of Nkhata Bay, Khombedza and Kalonga of Salima and Sawali of Balaka.

Taking their turns, the traditional leaders attacked Pac for what they said failure to appreciate different developments that Mutharika’s administration is apparently undertaking.

But in a separate interview, Pac Publicity Secretary, Peter Mulomole, laughed off the chief’s accusations, saying the issues that the quasi-religious organisation raised regarding Mutharika’s performance in relation to governance are those that are already in the public domain.

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Addressing the press in Lilongwe, the human rights activists who included Trapence, Billy Mayaya, Leon Matanda, MacDonald Sembekereka, Dorothy Ngoma and Desmond Mhango, argued that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government is using chiefs to defend its ills.

They also faulted government for claiming that it has lost its confidence in Pac “as if Pac was voted into office by someone”. Said Mayaya: “

Pac has a role to play in ensuring government is accountable and that Malawians have their needs taken care of. Pac has been there for over 25 years and it does not make sense for someone to say they have lost trust in Pac. That is laughable.”

The Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) leaders also reiterated that they are supporting the all-inclusive conference that Pac has organised next month. In an interview after the briefing, Trapence argued that the use of chiefs to defend government whenever someone points out some ills is retrogressive and a waste of resources.

“In the first place, Pac speaks on behalf of Malawians and we all know that Malawians are suffering. There is nepotism in this country and corruption remains rampant.

So how do chiefs come out and defend such ills? Are they really representing their subjects? “In fact, the Chiefs Act needs to be reviewed so that the roles of chiefs are properly scrutinised.

The Ministry of Local Government should also explain why chiefs are being abused by government. They are being funded to travel from faraway places and sleep in hotels using taxpayers’ money,” Trapence charged.

Meanwhile, the CSOs have also accused the Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) for apparently continuously ignoring government officials involved in corruption and only targeting those in opposition.

They have also hit at Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Chairperson, Jane Ansah, for stating that her institution might not be able to implement the 50+1 electoral system if it is not adopted by Parliament by the end of this year.

According to the CSOs, Ansah was not supposed to “suppress” the electoral reforms and should therefore be replaced for apparently siding with DPP which is also against the system.

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