MALAWI: Chiefs' partisan role condemned

mutharika_1.jpgChiefs campaigning for Mutharika
Traditional leaders who are openly telling their subjects to vote for certain political parties and their candidates in the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections have received condemnation for their conduct.

Rights group, CHRR said it has made observation in many parts of the
country, including Mzimba district where Inkosi Mbelwa IV is openly
telling people to vote for the incumbent president Dr. Bingu wa
Mutharika and his ruling DPP in the forthcoming elections.

This "sad trend" was also noticed last Saturday during a campaign rally
addressed by President Mutharika at Songani Trading Centre in Zomba,
where newly elevated Paramount Chief Chikowi made a speech in which he
said he would make sure that President Mutharika wins the May 19
elections by wooing his subjects to vote for him.

While we at CHRR do appreciate the vital role played by chiefs as
custodians of our Malawi culture and heritage -and although the
institution of chieftaincy is guaranteed by the constitution -we feel
chiefs are going too far by dictating to their subjects who they should
vote for and not vote for in the approaching general elections, a
statement issued by CHRR executive director Undule Mwakasungula said.

The rights activist said chiefs should not be involved in politics but
should work with the government of the day (not the party).

This is a position backed by the Chiefs Act (22:04). Chiefs should be
representative of their people, regardless of their religious or
political affiliation, said the statement.

CHRR said Chiefs and political parties have a crucial role to play to
fight political violence so that as a country we can achieve successful

Chiefs and political party leaders must avoid dividing people of this
country. Chiefs must stay awake from political campaigns while
political leaders must instill discipline in their supporters. That
way, we will avoid election violence and achieve peaceful, free and
fair elections, the statement said.

Campaigners for rights pointed out that political intolerance and
violence will not help the country achieve peaceful and successful

Nyasa Times

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