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Chiefs campaign for Peter Mutharika

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By Serah Makondetsa:

ACCUSED OF CAMPAIGNING FOR MUTHARIKA—Lukwa

In a blatant violation of the Chiefs’ Code of Conduct during elections, Senior Chief Lukwa and other traditional leaders are going round campaigning for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidates.

Much as chiefs have and are entitled to exercise political rights, just like any other citizen, Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act prohibits the traditional leaders from being partisan.

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Malawi News has established that Lukwa and Traditional Authority Kawamba have been lobbying people to vote for President Peter Mutharika during May 21 Tripartite Elections.

Kawamba Thursday confirmed that she and Lukwa have been telling their subjects to vote for the incumbent president.

“What the senior chief has been telling us is to vote for the President [Mutharika]. I do not see anything wrong with that and I have been telling my people the same thing,” she said.

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However, Lukwa refuted the reports arguing he simply attends rallies where he is invited.

“I do not comment on issues that are not true. I do not have time to waste,” he said.

In separate interviews with aspiring candidates from Kasungu West Constituency, it was confirmed that chiefs in the district have been campaigning for DPP.

Alex Major, an independent candidate, said Kawamba has been on a campaign trail with the DPP aspiring candidates.

“I have evidence of the chiefs moving around with DPP aspiring member of Parliament and councillor. And we have heard reports that, where they have been going, they have elevated all sub-T/As to TA’s in my area. They have also elevated Kawamba to Senior Chief.

“We have not formally launched complaints to Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) but we are hoping, through the media, they will act on the matter,” he said.

Amon Nkhata, another independent candidate, said, while he may not have evidence, he had heard reports on the matter.

“Some chiefs are being used by politicians and this has been the case most of the times. At some point when Kawamba spoke at a rally, it was so evident that she is campaigning. However, this is not strange but the one thing for sure people know what they want and they will not be shaken or influenced,” he said.

However, Otria Jere, a DPP candidate, disputed the reports arguing she has been campaigning for herself without the aid of chiefs as reported.

Efforts to speak to Mec Director of Media and Public Relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa proved futile as he could not be reached on his mobile phone.

University of Livingstonia-based political analyst George Phiri described the situation as unfortunate arguing that a chief who knows a code of conduct is not supposed to behave that way because the chiefs’ code of conduct does not permit them to be partisan.

“People have the right to choose who to vote for, so chiefs are not supposed to impose their minds on their subjects. But what these chiefs need to know is elections are unpredictable, so they should not think not all people will vote for [a candidate of] their choice.

“The question is: How are they going to work with a candidate who might win and they despised them? Chiefs are supposed to be exemplary and not break laws purposefully,” he said.

In March, during the official launch of the campaign period, Mec Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah challenged traditional leaders to desist from taking part in campaigning for aspiring candidates.

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