Two families are tussling over succession to Paramount Chief ChikowiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s throne, with one claiming legitimacy and the other arguing the deceased chiefÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s will indicates their name as the rightful successors.
The chieftaincy wrangle in old MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s capital, Zomba, comes at a time several royal families in the country have been locked up in similar fights and government has promised a mechanism for handling the same.
The family of Melliam Seti, a woman who is said to be the right heir to the Chikowi throne, is blaming some ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials of meddling into the chieftaincy to advance their political agenda.
On the other hand, a MÃ¢â‚¬â„¢madi Phiri is arguing he is the right successor because his name appears in a will left by the deceased and that he was born from the elder sister to the fallen traditional leader.
A source at the Zomba district commissionerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s office said: “It is true that there is a will and the name of MÃ¢â‚¬â„¢madi is there, which is surprising because the late chief did not know how to write. And moreover, issues of succession are not put in a will. Traditionally, there are procedures on who succeeds a late chief.Ã¢â‚¬Â
MÃ¢â‚¬â„¢madi confirmed in an interview that he is expected to take over the chieftaincy because the late Paramount Chief had indicated as such in his will apart from being from the eldest house in the family tree.
Seti is the grandchild of the late chief and has been earmarked for the chieftaincy by members of the Chikowi family. She has been acting chief since April last year pending installation.
John Msoma, who is a member from the elder family of the late Paramount Chief and also a brother to Seti, said in an interview there has been confusion as to who is the right person for the chieftaincy.
“According to tradition, issues of successor to a late chief are not put in a will,” said Msoma.
Zomba DC Harry Phiri confirmed the Chikowi feud, but could not divulge more information.
In his ruling over a similar caseÃ¢â‚¬â€the rightful heir to Traditional Authority NankumbaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s throneÃ¢â‚¬â€High Court Judge Slyvester Kalembera last April observed that it is high time a specialised tribunal were established to deal with chieftaincy matters.
Former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Anna Kachikho told The Nation last April that government was working on a system of handling chieftaincy succession issues to lift the burden from judicial structures.
She made the observation after Kalembera made his observation in the Nankumba case
Another outstanding dispute involves the Tengani chieftaincy which has been dragging for over seven years now.