Experts have faulted the Chiefs Act for giving too much power to the Head of State to appoint and elevate chiefs, saying this has led to abuse of power.
The comments follow the recent elevation of senior chiefs Ngolongoliwa of Thyolo and Kawinga of Machinga to Paramount Chief.
Commenting on the issue, Chancellor College political scientist Boniface Dulani said such appointments are politically motivated.
However, Dulani said while politicians think such appointments may help them gain political mileage, they have proved to have no influence in as far as people’s choice of who to vote for is concerned.
He said if that was the case, former president Joyce Banda, who elevated more chiefs than any other president in the country, could have won the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections.
Dulani proposed that the Chiefs Act should be reviewed.
“In an era where we are seeking to promote the values of democratic dispensation, regarding traditional leaders highly as our politicians do undermines democratic accountability as they are entrusted with so much power which in other ways could be performed by democratically elected leaders,” he said.
Malawi Law Society secretary Michael Goba Chipeta said under Section 3 of the Chiefs Act, the law gives a considerably wide discretion to the President to declare or alter the area of jurisdiction of a Paramount Chief and to create new offices of Paramount Chiefs as he thinks proper.
“What determines the elevations is what the President ‘thinks proper’ within the confines of the law. And what the President ‘thinks proper’ is wide enough to include political calculations or considerations,” he said.
But Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development spokesperson Muhlabase Mughogho said the appointments reflect a good working environment in as far as issues of chieftaincy are concerned. n