If the government bows down to traditional leaders’ pressure to increase their honoraria package, the taxpayer will be coughing more money to finance the same, The Daily Times has learned.
Our calculations indicate that the government spends K3.2 billion on chiefs’ honoraria annually.
At two of the cultural events President Lazarus Chakwera attended this year, the issue of honoraria increase cropped up, with some chiefs lamenting that prevailing packages are a “mockery”.
According to one senior chief, group village heads and village heads get K10,000 and K5,000, respectively, each per month.
He said they have been pestering the government to increase the package so that group village heads can be getting K40,000 monthly while village heads can be carting home K25,000 monthly.
However, while confirming that there have been calls to increase the honoraria package for traditional leaders, Local Government Minister Blessings Chinsinga said the government is exploring sustainable strategies that would, for example, ensure that chiefs do not cover long distances to banks.
“Honoraria is not the only need that chiefs have; there are other needs for senior chiefs such as housing. Currently, 78 houses are being constructed and these are at different levels of construction.
“It must also be mentioned that when chiefs fall sick, they are supported by the government, which settles medical bills,” Chinsinga said.
Ministry records indicate that there are 42,450 chiefs on the payroll. This includes paramount chiefs, senior chiefs, traditional authorities, sub-traditional authorities and group village heads.
Chinsinga indicated that there is equally a good number of traditional leaders waiting to be put on the payroll.
“There are also 9,000 approved chiefs waiting to be put on the payroll. This means, adding on to the existing 42,450, we will have 51,450 chiefs on the payroll. On the other hand, the country has 20,000 chiefs who are working but not approved [non-gazetted],” he added.
This means in total, Malawi has 71,450 chiefs who must be on the payroll.
Recently, the ministry indicated that it intended to give local councils the task of paying chiefs’ honoraria.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.