The Special Law Commission on the review of the Chiefs Act says cultural diversity presents a challenge to develop new legislation to regulate chieftaincy that promotes democratic principles of transparency and accountability in accordance with the Constitution and international practice.
Speaking when he opened a day-long Southern Region consultative workshop on the review of the Chiefs Act in Malawiâ€™s commercial city, Blantyre, chairperson of the Special Law Commission on the Chiefs Act, Supreme Court of Appeal JudgeÂ Anaclet Chipeta,Â said most provisions in the current Act are archaic and not in tandem with the new political dispensation.
Chipeta, therefore, said he was hopeful that feedback from the workshop will assist the commission in addressing the problem of cultural diversity as it relates to chiefs in the country.
He told the gathering that presentations that the meeting was brainstorming on were based on a draft report developed by his commission.
â€œThe report is a result of overwhelming and thorough research and consultation carried out by the commission with support from professional officers at the Law Commission,â€ Chipeta said.
He said recommendations in the draft report provide valuable insight into the current status of the countryâ€™s law and practices affecting the institution of chieftaincy.
Participants were taken through the entire Chiefs Act as contained in Chapter 22 of the Laws of Malawi, ranging from appointment, qualification and removal of traditional leaders to jurisdiction of traditional leaders in cities, municipalities, status of block leaders and gender mainstreaming.
A similar exercise, which is funded by the European Union (EU), GIZ and the Ministry of Local Government, already took place in the Central Region while the one for the Northern Region will take place in the near future.
The gathering included chiefs and district commissioners or their representatives from across the region; representatives of civil society organisations and the media.
The Chiefs Act under review was enacted on December 29 1967.