By Patrick Ndawala
Machinga, Machinga District Council has oriented 21 chiefs in the district on their roles and responsibilities on social issues and on COVID-19 pandemic in order to ensure that they discharge their duties to satisfy the needs of their subjects.
The one-day orientation meeting covered topics such as Chiefs Act, deceased estate, relationship between chiefs and public officers, child marriage, conflict management and Covid-19 pandemic.
Machinga District Commissioner (DC), Rosemary Nawasha, said the orientation was organised to remind chiefs of their critical role in development in their respective communities.
Nawasha said traditional leaders need to be knowledgeable on various social issues to ensure they respond well to the needs of their subjects.
“Chiefs are the ones who inform and mobilise their subjects to take part in development activities, they promote the welfare of their subject, promote culture and perform other traditional functions,” she said.
The DC said aMachinga District Council recognises roles of chiefs hence the orientation so that they (chiefs) can effectively execute their role once they are equipped with knowledge and skilsl.
Nawasha added that traditional leaders also play an important role in the administration of the council saying they ensure peaceful coexistence among people of difference social, political and religious affiliations in their areas.
“Even for police to enforce the laws they depend on community leaders like chiefs and this is why today we have community policing which works hand in hand with members of the community,” she said.
She, therefore, advised the chiefs to refrain from all acts of corruption especially when administering cases that involve people of different social economic status.
Nawasha advised chiefs need to be apolitical when discharging their duties but serve the government of the day.
“Chiefs just like public servants serves the government of the day as such they need to be different and respectful to the communities,” she said.
Paramount Chief Kawinga urged chiefs under his authority to be exemplary when serving their subjects so that their subjects should behave responsibly.
“If we want people to respect us, we must first of all respect ourselves. Don’t expect respect from people when we disrespect them,” he said.
The Yao paramount chief also said the lives of chiefs in the country will improve once the new Chiefs Act becomes operational.
“The new Chiefs Act will establish the Council of Traditional Leaders and the council will promote and safeguard the welfare of traditional leaders,” Kawinga said.
He added that the act will also give traditional leaders opportunities to present their views on matters of custom and tradition.
Kawinga said that the proposed legislation on chiefs wants all traditional authorities to start receiving emoluments from government.
He said time has come for government to consider constructing houses and put all chiefs on medical scheme.
The Yao paramount chief also encouraged fellow traditional leaders to continue sensitizing communities to adhere to Covid-19 preventive measure.
“Enforcement of Covid-19 preventive measures hinges on us since we are the ones who live with people in the communities,” he said.
Kawinga also expressed worry over the tendency of some traditional leaders who are involved in property grabbing.
He, therefore, advised them to put the special consideration on children and women when administering cases in their tribunals