The elevation of two Lhomwe chiefs, Group Village Headman Saidi Mataka under Mlomba and Group Village Headman Nyumwanyumwa under Chamba in Machinga district has angered the Yao people, a development which is likely to trigger enmity between the two tribes.
The sentiments come barely days after government elevated Mataka and Nyumwanyumwa on Tuesday this week despite protests from two Traditional Authorities (T/ As) Chamba and Mlomba.
Speaking in an interview yesterday, Mlomba accused Lhomwe paramount Chief Ngolongoliwa of wanting to disrupt the co-existence that has been there between the Yao and Lhomwe tribes by interfering in the affairs of Yao people.
Chairman for Chiwanja cha Yao, Mackennedy Yasini has warned government to tread carefully on these issues, arguing people react based on the information that is given to them.
He said the Yao territory has always co-existed with any grouping in the country and has done so without any political influence.
“I want to sound a warning to whoever is mismatching the elevation. Let us not create a situation like that in Rwanda. People are reacting because there was no thorough consultation. This is why Kamuzu didn’t promote cultural groupings…he believed in unity, he had a vision. As a country, where are we drifting to? Let politics be politics and cultural practices should be left alone,” he said.
Mlomba described this as a plot by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to increase its chances of having followers in the Eastern Region.
He said government seems to be rewarding some chiefs in the country under the guise of working with them for the benefit of people. “It is very unfortunate that chiefs nowadays have become instruments for the ruling party. Chiefs no longer have the powers they used to have.
I tried to stop government from going through with the process but I failed because I do not have the power which other chiefs have. I am not sure where government will take the land to give the new chiefs that have been elevated,” said Mlomba.
The two, Mlomba and Chamba, accuse Ngolongoliwa of assuming more powers to
dictate issues affecting other tribes across the country.
“Zikuwoneka ngati aNgolongoliwa tsopano ndi Mfumu ya Mafumu [It seems Ngongoliwa now is king of kings in Malawi]. But I know that every tribe in Malawi has its own paramount chief and I am surprised as to why Paramount Chief Ngongoliwa seems to have powers over other chiefs, just like the way he has managed to dictate things here,” Mlomba said.
A Yao grouping called Chiwanja cha Yao concurs with the two chiefs, saying this development could trigger enmity among the two groups.
Publicity Secretary for the grouping Macdonald Sembeleka said the Yaos are not pleased with the development.
“The prevailing thinking among many Yaos is of displeasure as this appears to be infiltration that could trigger even more enmity among people who were welcomed among Yaos long ago,” he said.
Last year, our investigations revealed that that the Lhomwe Paramount Chief Ngolongoliwa was leading the expansion drive and asked Traditional Authorities Chamba and Mlomba of Machinga,to cede part of their territories.
In extensive interviews with the T/As in Machinga, we discovered that Ngolongoliwa had the backing of Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.
According to the Chiefs Act, the powers to elevate Group Village Head (GVH) into a Sub TA rests in the hands of the responsible Traditional Authorities and not otherwise.
Ngolongoliwa denied being involved, saying he cannot poke his nose into issues to do with elevation of chiefs within the jurisdiction of other Traditional Authorities.
However on Wednesday this week, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa told our sister paper The Daily Times that Yao Paramount Chief Kawinga agreed and allowed the government to elevate the two Lhomwe group village heads.
Nankhumwa said that Kawinga did not see any problem and gave permission to elevate the two Lhomwe chiefs in his territory.
“There was a delegation from the ministry that went to meet with chiefs. In attendance was Paramount Chief Kawinga.
The meeting resolved the issues and Paramount Chief Kawinga wrote the ministry on the matter, further calling on us to on and elevate Mataka and Nyumwanyumwa on January 16,
2018,” he said.
But speaking in an interview Friday an executive member of Chiwanja cha Ayao said Kawinga was forced to accept the request.
He said at some point Mulankho wa Alhomwe wanted to hold a function at his Kawinga’s headquarters at Nanyumbu which he refused, fearing the motives behind it.
He said the meeting was held at the headquarters of another Yao chief, TA Sawiri in Balaka where President Peter Mutharika stopped over on his way from Mangochi to Blantyre.
“No Yao chief attended the function fearing for its motives and TA Sawiri was forced by police who were sent to collect him,’’ said the source.
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