All roads in the Northern Region yesterday led to Bolero, Rumphi where President Lazarus Chakwera installed Joseph Bongololo Gondwe as the 13th Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe of the Tumbuka people.
The chieftaincy has been boxed in controversy since the death of Walter Mtima Gondwe—Themba la Mathemba Chikulamayembe the 12th in 2018.
Speaking to the gathering at Bolero Community Ground, Chakwera described Bongololo Gondwe as the right king for Tumbuka people.
Chakwera said he never appointed Bongolo the Tumbuka Chief but the royal family did.
“This is your right chief of the Tumbuka. I do not appoint chiefs but receive the name of the right heir to the throne. I am here to present to you the chief of your choice,” Chakwera said.
He then advised the new chief to unite his subjects, saying the chieftaincy might brought some divisions among the Tumbuka.
Minister of Local Government Blessings Chinsinga urgded the new chief to support government in its development projects.
Inkosi ya Makhosi Mmberwa and Mtemi wa Matemi Kyungu advised Chikulamayembe to be non-partisan if he is to serve the people with dignity.
Before Chakwera arrived at the venue, police threw tear gas canisters at Chikulamayembe’s official residence to disperse some boys who gathered at the house to protest against the installation of Bongololo.
As Times crew was headed to official residence to interview Mtima Gondwe, who, since the death of his father, has been the acting Themba la Mathemba up until 2019 when he was crowned the Tumbuka chief by the previous administration, before the High court in Mzuzu nullified the installation last year, police and soldiers from Malawi Defence Force were all over along the road to the house.
In an interview, Mtima vowed not to back down.
Mtima, who said he is still keeping the royal stick and chieftaincy fly whisk, said him and his folowers have been tortured for preserving the Tumbuka culture.
“They have smoked us with tear gas. People will not stop, they will fight. I’m still paramount chief Chikulamayembe,” Mtima said.
Since the death of Walter Gondwe, his son Mtima had been the acting paramount chief until October 23, 2019 when he was fully crowned as the Tumbuka chief amid chaotic scenes.
This did not go down well with Bongololo who took the matter to court and his player to nullify Mtima’s ascendancy to the throne was granted.
Since then, Mtima had been acting as a caretaker chief.
On March 12, this year, Chakwera appointed Bongololo as theTumbuka Chief but the move has been met with resistance from Mtimba’s camp which petitioned the President twice.