Malawi President Joyce Banda has advised traditional leaders in the country to look forward to 2013 with renewed energy and focus on the nation’s prosperity.
Banda was speaking at Chikoko Bay State Lodge, Monkey Bay in Mangochi on Wednesday when she hosted a luncheon for Yao chiefs from Mangochi, Machinga, Dedza, Blantyre, Zomba, Balaka, Chiradzulu, Mulanje and Salima.
Said Banda: “I would like to start by recognising the important role chiefs have played in the country, particularly from the time I assumed the reins of power in April.
“We’ve coexited and implemented development programmes together which should prevail in the coming year.”
She said government has prioritised two key programmes to resuscitate the country’s ailing economy, among others, empowering farmers to cultivate crops twice a year as opposed to the reliance of traditional rain-fed agriculture.
“My government has sourced $68 million [about K2.2 billion] for irrigation farming from the European Union. I would like to see smallholder farmers cultivate not only staple but other cash crops from April onwards,” she said.
Commenting on media reports about the suspension of chiefs Kilupula and Chimombo of Karonga and Nsanje respectively, Banda said government arrived at the decision following reports of abuse of office by the two traditional leaders.
Banda urged Yao chiefs to identify someone who could be appointed as a Paramount and get organised in terms of the Yao cultural identity like other cultures and traditions.
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Grace Maseko commended the President for empowering chiefs in a number of programmes including the Safe Motherhood Initiative.
Senior Chief Kadewere commended the President for inviting them to a luncheon on Boxing Day.