Paramount Chief Ngolongoliwa, who has been embroiled in allegations that he was among the architects of the United Transformation Movement (UTM), has distanced himself from the claims.
The Lhomwe Paramount Chief dispelled the allegations on Thursday, when he addressed 183 traditional leaders at Namphungo, Traditional Authority (T/A) Juma in Mulanje.
Ngolongoliwa said he has never been involved in the formation of any political movement, not even UTM, stressing that doing so would be playing outside his jurisdiction as a traditional leader.
“By now Malawians know what it entails to be a traditional leader. Among the roles that fall within my powers I do not think influencing political choices and decisions is one of them.
“It is coming as a surprise when some people stand on political podiums to claim that I was part of the formation of UTM. Let me take this opportunity to make my position clear to all Malawians that I had nothing to do with that political grouping,” he said.
Ngolongoliwa’s sentiments follow what Mulanje West legistlator Patricia Kaliati said at a rally last Saturday at Masintha ground in Lilongwe during the official launch of UTM which is led by Vice-President Saulos Chilima.
During the rally, Kaliati praised the Paramount Chief and Mulhako wa Alhomwe chairperson Leston Mulli for the role they played in the formation of the movement, a position she reiterated in a separate interview on Monday.
When the Paramount Chief was asked if he ever attended any meeting together with Kaliati and Noel Masangwi, he said the meetings he and the two were present had different agendas, which were not political.
Chief Ngolongoliwa said: “We are basically children from the same family as Lhomwes. I have ever summoned meetings which had agendas mainly reflecting on my role as a traditional leader and the two have ever been present together with other people.”
This is the latest in what looks will be a long running spat between Kaliati and the Paramount Chief, who is backed by the cultural ethnic group Mulhako wa Alhomwe.
On Monday the group demanded an apology from Kaliati for skipping the title ‘Paramount’ when she referred to the chief in her Saturday address.
In an interview yesterday, Kaliati laughed off Ngolongoliwa’s comments and insisted that what she said in Lilongwe is true.
“During my entire political life I have never lied and I do not intend to start now. Not on this issue. If this was not true, then I could not be bringing in other names that I mentioned,” she said.
Kaliati, who is former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) director of women, is now the acting secretary general of UTM.