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Government pledges to settle chiefs’ arrears

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By Richard Chirombo:

Some traditional leaders have bemoaned delays to get their honoraria, but the government has attributed the development to logistical challenges that, it said, have been addressed.

Some of the traditional leaders who queried on the issue are Senior Chief Malemia and Traditional Authority Mbenje.

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Speaking at Nsanje Boma, where Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Kondwani Nankhumwa, had a whistle-stop on his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) campaign trail, DPP shadow councillor for Chekerere Ward, Mike Kafalaji, backed the traditional leaders on the issue, claiming they had suffered for some time.

One of the senior chiefs in Blantyre also confirmed in a separate interview that he had not received honoraria for three months, fearing that the situation could only get worse after the dissolution of Local Councils on March 20 this year.

Local Government authorities and Parliament were dissolved ahead of the May 21 parliamentary and Local Government elections, in line with Section 67(2) of the Constitution of Malawi which states that “The National Assembly shall stand dissolved on the 20th of March in the fifth year after its election, and the polling day for the general elections for the next National Assembly shall be the Tuesday in the third week of May that year:”

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Section 147(5) of the Constitution also states that Local Government elections shall take place concurrently with general elections for members of the National Assembly as prescribed under section 67(1) and Local Government Authorities shall stand dissolved on the 20th day of March of the fifth year after their elections

However, Nankhumwa— who is also DPP vice president for the Southern Region— attributed the delays to “logistical challenges” which, he said, had been addressed.

“Traditional leaders will start getting their honoraria arrears on Monday [yesterday],” he said.

He reiterated the message during a whistle-stop tour of the Shire Valley districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa last weekend, saying the government had the welfare of traditional leaders at heart.

The development comes when some traditional leaders say they are still receiving their old honoraria package despite the government approving new honoraria for them last year.

But Nankhumwa said such chiefs would also get their arrears from Monday.

“The government has been working on addressing those challenges and that is why, from Monday (yesterday), chiefs will get the honoraria and any arrears. This is the only government, and governing party, that has the welfare of traditional leaders and all Malawians at heart,” he said.

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