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Government bashed over Chief Lundu

The government has come under fire over the appointment of Paramount Chief Lundu as Chairperson of Malawi Blood Transfusion Service (MBTS) Board.
In a press statement that was issued on Wednesday, signed by Chief Secretary to the Government Lloyd Muhara, President Peter Mutharika appointed Lundu to head the seven-member board.
However, commentators have described the appointment of Lundu as a goof, arguing that the move only aims at rewarding the chief for being loyal to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Health, Juliana Lunguzi, described the appointment as one of the many mistakes Malawi has made in recent years.
“My first reaction was: Does he [Chief Lundu] have the capacity to head [MBTS]? This is a technical institution we are talking of; but, again, when we look at how we choose board members here in Malawi, it has to please the president and usually they choose the people they want without looking at their technical expertise,” Lunguzi said.
Lunguzi said politically connected appointments have resulted in the country having underperforming institutions since they lack proper leadership.
“You can agree with me that, oftentimes, such appointments have brought various challenges to our statutory corporations don’t perform very well simply because we just put those who can endorse without questioning the processes that have to be followed,” she said.
Human rights activist Billy Mayayaalso questioned Lundu’s appointment, describing it as a political reward.
“As civil society, we feel the role of chiefs is being undermined with such political appointments. The primary mandate of chiefs is to ensure that their subjects are being taken care of, in terms of social services. The appointment of Lundu is a sign that he is being rewarded for the negative opinions he was holding against members of the opposition,” Mayaya said.
Chancellor College political commentator, Ernest Thindwa, has said the appointment is one of the methods the DPP is using to gain votes in the Shire Valley where the main opposition Malawi Congress Party is making inroads.
“I don’t think there is any chief today who can say he can influence the way people vote. So, the DPP should rethink its strategy. That is why most of these bodies are not performing [well],” he said.
When asked to comment on his appointment, Lundu said he was yet to receive official communication.
“I cannot say anything on this matter because I am yet to receive official communication on the matter,” he said.
But government spokesperson, Nicholas Dausi, defended the appointment.
“I think that is a very wrong conclusion. The question of technicalities does not arise because this institution has technical officers on the ground who do their work to their level best,” he said.
Lundu was among the chiefs who petitioned Speaker of Parliament and the Office of the President (OPC) against Electoral Reforms (Amendment) Bills late last year.
In March last year, Lundu was booed at the funeral of Senior Chief Kabudula in Lilongwe after making political remarks in support of the ruling DPP.
Other members of the board include Douglas Lungu, Robert Mdeza, Agnes Sentala and Lewis Msasa.

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