Some traditional leaders in Chiradzulu and Mzimba say they are ignorant of their duties, roles and responsibilities and further claims the English version of the Chiefs Act is not accessible.
The concerned chiefs have since asked their parent ministry, Local Government and Rural Development, to consider making it available or translate the Act into vernacular languages to enable them read and appreciate their duties, roles and responsibilities.
“Chieftaincy is hereditary [in Malawi] and anyone can assume the role regardless of his or her educational backgrounds.
That’s why concerns have been raised several times before regarding chiefs’ contributions to the district executive committee (DEC) whose meetings they merely attend because they’re chiefs,” noted group village head (GVH) Nsaka of Traditional Authority T/A Mpama in Chiradzulu.
He made the remarks recently when he attended one of the training sessions organised by Pan African Civic Educators Network (Pacenet). With funding from Tilitonse, Pacenet has been enhancing citizen action for justice, development and democratic governance at local level in Chiradzulu and Thyolo districts.
On the other hand, GVH Loti Chisambi in Mzimba faulted the ministry for doing little in educating them, saying as a traditional leader, he does not know how the English version of the Act looks like.
“Besides having no copy of the act that governs us, we don’t undergo training or orientation. So, do you expect me to be effective in my duties?” Chisambi asked.
Pacenet executive director Steven Duwa echoed the chiefs’ concerns, arguing like any other profession, traditional leaders need basic education and orientation on their roles and responsibilities.
“The parent ministry must do something urgently. Otherwise, we’re giving them room to abuse their people’s rights,” said Duwa.
However, director of chiefs administration in the Ministry of Local Government, Lawrence Makonokaya, admitted there are a number of gaps existing in the chiefs’ administration.
“We do appreciate their concerns. The current Chiefs Act is undergoing review afterwhich; we’ll translate into local languages. As for the trainings, DCs will take care of that from the next financial year,” he explained.