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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Kondwani Nankhumwa treading on dangerous ground

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Local Government Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa is a man on a dangerous mission.
Nankhumwa wears two hats. He is minister and also the ruling DPP’s campaign director and obviously he is failing to act with honour and distinguish the two.
Here is why. It is not out of the blues or coincidence that Nankhumwa, as a man on a mission, does not stay in office for a week without promoting a chief to some senior positions in some corner of the country.
But what passes as a constant in all these promotions is not the history of the area or seniority as defined by the traditions and local history.
Rather, it is how loud the chosen ones have been in singing the praises of President Peter Mutharika or the DPP as the party eyes 2019 elections.
Simply put, what is driving the Nankhumwa agenda to promote these chiefs is not really to improve culture and tradition but to position the DPP to win the 2019 polls, believing that these promoted chiefs will hold political sway.
But this time the Local Government Minister has gone too far and it is where even angels fear to tread.
This week Nankhumwa has promoted two chiefs from mere village headmen to Traditional Authoriries (TA) in the Yao dominated district of Machinga in a move in which the Lhomwe Paramount Chief Ngolongoliwa has played a key a role as he also sees it as a way of expanding his influence.
These two newly promoted chiefs are Lhomwe by tribe but all along they have lived among the Yaos as juniors to Yao chiefs.
That this move undermines the whole traditional structure of Machinga District with Paramount Chief Kawinga sitting at the top, needs no explaining.
That the move will bring resentment and anger of the Yaos towards the two newly promoted chiefs, has been aptly captured in our lead story in this newspaper.
At the end of the day, this is an attempt by a government that has decided to act tribal in order to achieve political expediency, pushing through its strategy without thinking about its ramifications as it tries to create more influence for its most loved chief—Ngolongoliwa.
Every village in Malawi has its history that defines who is senior and who is not and the same applies to Machinga where the Peter Mutharika administration is trying to upset it all.
No government since the colonial times has succeeded in changing these dynamics and structures using raw political power.
Nankhumwa and DPP might think the move is putting them at an advantage politically. It is not, as what they are doing is pitting the few Lhomwe chiefs in Machinga against the majority ones that belong to the Lhomwe tribe.
That, in our book, is treading on dangerous ground. Worse still, it is an attempt to destabilize Malawi based on tribal lines.

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