Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe and other traditional leaders in Rumphi have condemned politician Yeremiah Chihana over the remarks he made regarding the new land law during the Gonapamuhanya Cultural Festival over the weekend.
Chihana took to the microphone and addressed guest of honour Minister of Local Government, Kondwani Nankhumwa, that people including chiefs of the district are grateful to President Peter Mutharika for assenting to the bill.
This has irked Chikulamayembe and his juniors who denounced Chihana’s sentiments.
The Tumbuka’s supreme leader argued Chihana does not hold any representative role to speak on behalf of the people on such a controversial matter, on which they have a number of reservations.
“We wonder in what capacity he said those words because he did not consult us. Prior to the event, we were contemplating on ways of engaging government on the same. So we are not happy with what he did,” Chikulamayembe said.
He said the chiefs and their subjects have a number of concerns regarding the new land law which he stated is tantamount to “land grabbing”.
“If we had it our way, we would want the law repealed. Laws have been repealed before especially when they are injurious to the majority. After all, most Malawians were not consulted as it should be the case in any multiparty dispensation,” Chikulamayembe said.
Speaking separately, Senior Group Village Headman (GHV) Phuzuzu described Chihana’s conduct as deplorable and has since labelled him an agent of the ruling machinery.
Phuzuzu accused the former Mzimba North legislator of indiscipline by speaking at the end after all senior dignitaries had delivered their speeches.
“Let him come back and apologise to Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe for such demeaning remarks, he should have known how aggrieved the paramount is with this law,” Phuzuzu said.
The chiefs have since demanded opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) to come back to the people to explain and consequently apologise for passing the bill which they had initially rejected by boycotting deliberations.
“We believe the MPs had valid reasons for boycotting debate on the bill and we needed to know the reasons, but before they did that the bill passed and now the President has assented to it,” Phuzuzu said.
“The law tampers with cultural heritage. What is chieftaincy without power to rule over land? And by way of registration, you actually see that land inheritance is impossible once the owner dies,” he queried.
When contacted, Chihana a professional in various land related portfolios, said his remarks were in good faith as a technocrat in the field.
He further downplayed assertions that his comments were an effort to make peace with Mutharika after his controversial evaluation of former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika’s wealth.
“I don’t talk to Mutharika, I don’t even know where he is. I was compelled to speak because this bill is what Malawi has always needed. After all, I emphasised that government should continue to sensitise people on its contents looking at the misunderstandings surrounding it,” he explained.
Asked if he is going to apologise as demanded, Chihana said he will wait for an official communication.
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