Politics of Malawi has raped and defiled traditional powers of chiefs as chiefs have been reduced to victims of abuse and manipulation by state political powers. While politicians are voted into power chiefs are born as such.
The role of traditional chiefs from paramount, senior, traditional authority, group village headman to a mere village headman has been misinterpreted. Our chiefs do not know their role and obligations towards state neither do they know their duties towards their people. The missing link has perpetuated the executive branch of government to take advantage of the ignorance of traditional chiefs in Malawi. As political freedom in many parts of Africa started with chiefs Malawian chiefs are followers not leaders.
History of Africa has in so many occasions been championed by traditional chiefs. Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, South Africa and so many states of west and east Africa gained their independence from colonial rule because of the power of traditional chiefs. Most of the wars against foreign occupiers were initiated and fought under the stewardship and commanding of chiefs.
In Africa chiefs are supposed to be more powerful and influential on the way both economic and political development are undertaken. In Malawi traditional chiefs have been reduced to door mats more than the citizens themselves. Our chiefs are so naive to remain in the euphoric situation of one party where their song was “whatever you decide at state house or parliament we will submit”. Traditional chiefs are threatened with manipulative sentiments that say ” submit to the wishes and dreams of the government of the day” this is a colonial verse that forced our people into submission to slavery, occupation and segregation.
Though Africa has totally liberated herself Malawi traditional chiefs remain in bondage of political power of the day. If a chief disagrees with the policy of the government threats of dismissal comes from the government and because of poverty chiefs submit to state power. Instead of taking state power to task chiefs have become agents of state, they become tools of destruction. There is general talk that chiefs must and are supposed to be non partisan hence remain neutral in politics as their people are affiliated to different colours of political flags, Malawi chiefs are prostitutes of politicians being used with a condom to satisfy sexual desires of politicians and be left dry without any development which are the situations at each and every corner of Malawi. Roads, clinics, hospitals, electrification and rural development are far from reach in all corners of Malawi.
These very chiefs are seen wearing decorated robs and toppees on airwaves castigating truth tellers that criticise those in power with genuine reasons. Traditional chiefs are eyes of the country not eyes of the government, in Malawi chiefs are spies, propaganda machines of the ruling reducing them to failures and hypocrites. Hot issues about border line that has made Malawi to lose its treasure Lake Malawi is being dealt with by politicians while traditional chiefs keep quite and watch. Tribalism and regionalism is rampant but chiefs keep quite. Chiefs watch the country becoming worse politically as well as economically without any say. Chiefs do see and know the hardships facing their subjects in their areas talking about exorbitant high prices of commodities, non existence of development, backwardness of their areas even though their umbilical cord is intertwined with the ruling party and government of the day and a list of heart aching issues that questions the integrity of their positions. The country becomes a junk state under their watch. Constitution has been abused and defiled several times Malawi chiefs have said or did nothing; yet chiefs are genuine owners of the country while politicians are temporary rulers that hold the country periodically.
The stance of chiefs in Malawi after multiparty democracy has been disgraceful they have left development agenda into the hands of politicians. Despite that government is run by politicians development was supposed to be owned and run by chiefs but Malawi chiefs have had myopia towards this hence leaving their nation vulnerable towards meaningful development.
Chiefs have left politicians to play political games by establishing football and netball tournaments with state funds when roads and active income in the village is below par. Instead of chiefs initiating projects of entrepreneurship and small scale businesses for their citizens they clap hands seeing parliamentarians and politicians bringing balls in potholed and impassable roads into their areas coercing youth into sporting activities in 4×4 luxury cars that feels no potholes and leave them hungry after giving them small figures of money that cannot buy them a bag of maize or a packet of sugar. Malawi chiefs foolishly and stupidily accept this as development.
In Lesotho and Botswana chiefs have played a pivotal role where villages have developed tremendously salivating city dwellers to move back to the villages. There is mass immigration from cities and towns into villages and remote areas where well to do families come to invest in housing, agriculture, entrepreneurs and establish various cooperative societies involved in many developmental aspects from burial societies to business societies. Funerals in rural areas in these states are decorated while in Malawi people do not cry for the deceased’s sake but mainly because of the condition and situations at which dead people are buried. Talk about home made coffins, food and houses that accommodates such situations. Late Kamuzu Banda and founder of this nation used to organize tours and excursions for chiefs to travel nations across the planet to educate themselves on how they can develop their areas but 22 years after multiparty dispensation chiefs are just surbodinates who are insurbonated by politics. It’s a pity for Malawi it’s a pity for Malawi chiefs. Civic education must be undertaken to bring chiefs upfront to active chieftainship that develops and hold their politicians and government of the day accountable.
Failure of chiefs to take stakeholders to task will bring the nation to shame for politicians are capable of selling the nation to highest bidders for want of personal wealth not national wealth. Chiefs are custodians of national and blanket wealth.
Saunders Jumah the Utopian
People’s Movement for the Restoration of Malawi.
Mzika Za Mdziko Movement
Malawi Freedom Network