In a twist of events, Senior Chief Kaomba of Kasungu, who was among traditional leaders in the forefront advocating for Peter Mutharikaâ€™s 2014 candidature, on Monday said the aborted plan by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led Cabinet to block President Joyce Banda from assuming power was unfortunate.
Kaomba, in an interview on Monday, advised all traditional leaders in the country to immediately switch their allegiance to Bandaâ€™s administration because chiefs are expected to serve the government of the day.
The chief said during the 2009 elections, Malawians voted for both the late president Bingu wa Mutharika and Banda, who was the running mate; hence, he observed, it was surprising that some people wanted to disturb the smooth transition by advancing Peter Mutharikaâ€™s name to take over contrary to the constitutional order.
â€œThat was very unfortunate really. I am very happy that they have dropped the idea. We voted for her [Banda] in 2009, what is the problem now? We are very happy with the smooth transition,â€ he said.
Despite being expelled from the DPP in December 2010, Banda remained the countryâ€™s Vice-President and, by operation of Section 83 (4) of the Constitution, she automatically became President following Mutharikaâ€™s death.
However, following news of Mutharikaâ€™s death, some Cabinet ministers resolved that Banda could not assume the presidency because she formed her own political party, the Peopleâ€™s Party (PP).
In reaction, the Malawi Law Society (MLS) described the resolution as illegal, saying â€œat no point in the history of the Republic of Malawi did Her Excellency President Joyce Banda cease to be Vice-President of the Republic of Malawi before 5th April 2012;â€ hence, any machinations by a group of persons to unconstitutionally assume the powers and duties of the President constitute the high crime of treason on the part of such individuals.
On Mutharikaâ€™s death, Kaomba said chiefs are saddened and extended condolences to the President, the former first lady Callista Mutharika, the children of the fallen leader and the entire family.
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation executive director Undule Mwakasungula said the support of the chiefs should be based on principles and not personal interests as has previously been displayed.
â€œWe have been always concerned in the way our chiefs conduct themselves,â€ said Mwakasungula. â€œMost of the chiefs have been more politicians than custodians of our culture or tradition. Chiefs should be seen to be non partisan and should embrace all Malawians of different political affiliations. Chiefs should be in the forefront in promoting national unity, development and peace.â€
He advised the new administration to learn from the experience of the previous regimes and stop the abuse and exploitation of traditional leaders.