President Peter Mutharika has summoned Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Tarsizio Gowelo over the removal of chiefs in urban areas from a list of beneficiaries of honoraria.
On May 21, the Ministry slashed the chiefs from the pay roll arguing that no traditional leader should exercise jurisdiction in a city, municipality or town council except with a written approval of an appropriate council established under the Local Government Act.
Following that decree, chiefs in Blantyre raised an alarm over the decision prompting Mutharika to summon the Minister who is reportedly yet to brief the President for taking that decision.
“What the President had done was to ask the Minister to brief him on what he exactly meant by the removal of chiefs who do not qualify to be chiefs more especially in the urban areas of Blantyre,” said Gerald Viola Mutharika’s Press Secretary in an interview.
Viola said once the President is briefed, he will come in and make a decision on the matter.
He was quick to say that: “The President will make a way forward on what the minister has done to the chiefs. The chiefs should not panic; the President will make it clear once he receives a communication from the minister.”
He said Mutharika wants to know the implication and legality of the matter.
But in an interview, Gowelo said the jurisdiction of the chiefs protesting against their removal from the pay roll was illegal and that their protest will eventually yield nothing.
He said the chiefs could come up with reasonable grounds if they had first read and understood the Local Government Act and the Chiefs Act that provides guidance on matters of chieftaincy in both urban and rural areas.
“The law is very clear out there, if we started from there it would make sense, because the way it is coming out it’s like the ministry has worked out of nothing and started propagating nullification of the roles of chiefs in urban areas; it’s not,” Gowelo said.
Meanwhile, about five group village heads and village heads have petitioned the District Commissioner in Blantyre about the matter.
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