Traditional leaders in Blantyre and Zomba yesterday petitioned Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to reverse the decision to annul the authority of group village heads (GVHs) and village heads (VHs) in urban areas.
The development follows a directive issued in the ministry’s letter released last week and signed by principal secretary Lawrence Makonokaya.
Reads the letter in part: “This is in line with the Local Government Act and the Chief’s Act which stipulates that no paramount chief, senior chief or sub chief shall exercise jurisdiction within the area of a city, municipality or township except with the written approval of the appropriate council established under the Local Government [Urban Areas] Act.
“The ministry informs that with immediate effect all the group village heads and village heads who were receiving monthly honoraria, but are within the jurisdiction of city, have been slashed from the payroll, and must not exercise power and authority therein.”
However, yesterday chiefs in Blantyre City led by senior GVH Njambe from Senior Chief Kapeni’s area and VH Chiwembe converged at the district commissioner’s (DC) office to present a petition to the DC.
But Njambe refused to grant an interview to The Nation, saying: “It is premature. We cannot talk to the media, but after everything, we will tell you what we have agreed. As of now, we have agreed to petition the ministry.”
Blantyre DC Charles Kalemba confirmed receiving the letter from the chiefs, but said he cannot comment further on the development.
Said the DC: “I am just like a channel to take information from government to chiefs and from chiefs to government, so I cannot comment much, but you can talk to the ministry of local government.”
In Zomba, Traditional Authority (T/A) Mlumbe said the development has implications on operations and challenged that he will not accept the ministry’s decision.
He said: “I have 600 chiefs in my area. Some will be affected by this move taken by the ministry. I will not allow that to happen.
“We have relayed our concerns to the DC and we are waiting to see how they will assist us. But I can tell you that there were fireworks after the news from the ministry.”
In Mzuzu and Lilongwe, the chiefs also presented their petitions.
Yesterday, Makonokaya insisted that government will not change its decision.
He said: “This decision will not be reversed. They have the right to do whatever they want but we are standing by our letter.”