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Nthalire community defies government

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People of Nthalire in Chitipa District two weeks ago proceeded to install Ackim Kawonga as Traditional Authority (T/A) Nthalire despite the government suspending the process following a court notice.

Minister of Local Government, Kondwani Nankhumwa, made the decision after being served the court documents by lawyers of Judge Kawonga, who claims to be the legitimate heir to the throne.

Unhappy with the decision, Ackim’s family and other sympathisers organised a traditional installation ceremony during which he was crowned, District Commissioner (DC) for Chitipa, Michael Chimbalanga, has confirmed.

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“We are aware that some members of the royal family were not happy with the development. They say that was done in accordance with tradition, but for the record, we are not party to that because of the legal proceedings that were commenced by the aggrieved party,” Chimbalanga said on Tuesday.

The DC reiterated that, with advice from the ministry, his office does not recognise Ackim as a T/A until the matter is sorted amicably.

One of the elders of the community, Harrison Mwandira, said in a telephone interview yesterday that they followed their culture and tradition.

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But Ackim said in an interview that he and his family were not served with any court documents.

He claimed that government officials deliberately chose to side with Judge and his sympathisers at his expense.

“Chieftaincy is ancestral and this chieftaincy is under our custody. People of Nthalire could not wait any longer on the basis of court documents which we have not seen. We followed tradition and I was elevated and there was no opposition,” Ackim said.

He then challenged the DC and the ministry not to politicise the chieftaincy, saying that would be divisive.

The Nthalire chieftaincy, according to Judge’s lawyer George Kadzipatike, rotates among three royal families of Chikunguweya, Zambwe and Chalaghala.

He said the last T/A [Rabson Kawonga] who died in August 2017 came from the Chaghalala family and that it is now the turn of the Chikunguweya family to which Judge belongs.

But Ackim, who belongs to the Zambwe family, quashed the claim saying there are just two royal families [Zambwe and Chaghalala] who take turns of the reins depending on who gets majority votes in traditional polls.

On the way forward, Kadzipatike said the installation was in futility since no T/A operates without the government’s knowledge, adding they will proceed with the court case.

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