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Chiefs’ patronising behaviour regrettable

Some of the tenets of democracy are transparency and accountability. Under normal circumstances, national leaders are supposed to hold these principles close to their hearts.

Unfortunately, this does not always happen in Malawi as, from time to time, those entrusted to steer the ship that is Malawi forsake their call to duty and trample upon the rights of Malawians.

Just recently, those we elected at the ballot in 2014 reminded us that, like those before them, they are capable of advancing personal interests at the expense of national good.

And, yet, Section 6 of the Constitution clearly stipulates that, “Save as otherwise provided in this Constitution, the authority to govern derives from the people of Malawi as expressed through universal and equal suffrage in elections held in accordance with this Constitution in a manner prescribed by an Act of Parliament”.

Not just that. Framers of the Constitution were clever enough to realise that, even after elections, it would sometimes be necessary for the Executive to refer issues to Parliament to avoid cases where leaders get drunk with power and turn development endeavours into self-enrichment goals.

But, recently, and in a blatant disregard of Parliament’s oversight role, the Executive decided to privately ‘reward’ 86 Members of Parliament with a K4 billion loot. Had it not been for the intervention of our sister paper, Malawi News, the money would have gone into the pockets of those who were selfish enough to shoot down Electoral Reforms (Amendment) Bills.

We say this because the majority of those who were earmarked for the loot had voted against the will of the people by shooting down the electoral reforms, which, ironically, were developed by the Special Law Commission on the Review of Electoral Laws. These were suggestions of the people of Malawi, the very people who vote in elections.

It is, therefore, disheartening to learn that some traditional leaders have backed the clandestine transaction.

What the chiefs have done is grotesque. Chiefs are no more important than the rest of us in this country. A well-meaning traditional leader cannot stand for what is not right.

To make matters worse, the chiefs have also spoken against demonstrations, despite Section 38 of the Constitution clearly stipulating that, “Every person shall have the right to assemble and demonstrate with others peacefully and unarmed”.

What the chiefs are doing is to stifle these freedoms, an impossible task in a democracy.

Fortunately, we have other sensible chiefs who do not make statements for the sake of political expediency.

Moving forward, we expect chiefs to come back to their senses and side with the people. After all, it is the people we voted into power, and not chiefs, Malawians are holding accountable. The chiefs can as well concentrate on settling village cases.

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