Of chiefs and political SIDEs

 

Just when Malawians want chiefs to desist from partisan politics, Senior Chief Mwankhunikira of Rumphi has ordered village heads in his area to keep away from rallies organised by opposition political parties. . Our Mzuzu Bureau Supervisor JOSEPH MWALE caught up with the chief to understand the remarks he made at a political rally organised by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) executives, including Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe and his Transport and Public Works counterpart Jappie Mhango.

Mwankhunikira: We serve government of the day

Q

: How important was the DPP rally for you?

A

: If government officials come to my area of jurisdiction, it means they are bringing development. Thus, it becomes very easy for me to tell them what we are lacking in the area and that assures us of their support to the area. So, I am very happy that the two ministers, Gondwe and Mhango, came to my area. I want them to come again so that we constantly engage on development issues.

Q

: I was present at your home when you heaped praises on Malawi Congress Party (MCP) leader Lazarus Chakwera as a humble person, that you wish him well in his political career and that you would mobilise chiefs to tour the district with him. But today you change tune and say chiefs have to strictly side with government. Why?

A

: No, that is not true. I didn’t go to attend the rally which Chakwera held at Phwezi. The time Chakwera came here, I was sick. What I can accept is that he came to see me at my house. Even if I were not sick, I would not have gone to attend the rally at Phwezi because that is opposition. Being a chief, I work with the government of the day. There is no need of going to attend meetings held by the opposition.

Q

Senior Chief Mwankhunikira, I seriously want to understand your thinking: Why do you insist that it is wrong for a chief to attend a rally organised by an opposition party?

A

: Being a chief, I am working with the government of today. Opposition? Yes, they are my people too, but what will I say at a rally that is addressed by the

opposition. I will give you an example. This scenario is like that of your wife, who will always support you as the husband, she cannot support outsiders, and it’s like that. So even me, I cannot support others, while failing to support my wife. You must know that my office belongs to the Office of President and Cabinet. That is where my support is.

Q

: So, what are you telling your subordinate chiefs who attend and speak at rallies addressed by the opposition?

A

: What I want to tell them is that when they go to rallies held by the opposition, they are doing so in my absence and without my blessing. They are going to such rallies without my knowledge. Now, if they go to such rallies, it is better for them to be quiet rather than saying things I don’t know. What will they say while they are under the Ministry of Local Government in the Office of President and Cabinet? n

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