President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, on Thursday launched the First National Chiefs Forum on Natural Resources Management in Lilongwe.The initiative, which aims at empowering the chiefs to take a leading role in conserving the natural endowments in their localities, is the first of its kind.
On the other hand, this is a story of how far the country has come in terms of letting chiefs play their rightful role of looking after their subjects and the environment as opposed to forcing them being perpetrators of political intolerance by governing parties.
This is a departure from what used to happen with previous political administrations where chiefs were used as political agents for the ruling parties.
During Bakili Muluzi’s infamous Open-Term bid, chiefs across the country were used to drum up support for an unconstituional campaign which has nothing to do with their mandate.
That time, chiefs were more yellow and were just another version of the notorious Young Democrats.When power changed hands from Muluzi to Bingu wa Mutharika, chiefs changed from yellow to blue and became more or less of party cadets.
The unfortunate part of the whole thing was that, some chiefs who did not want to be used as political pawns experienced all sorts of abuse by those in power.
All that is now history. Chiefs have been liberated thanks to President Chakwera’s leadership which respects chiefs as custodians of culture.
It is a fact that chiefs are supposed to serve government of the day but government is not supposed to reduce them into cheerleaders or puppets the way UDF and DPP administrations were doing.
Before we lose sight of where we are going, people need to remember that this new lease of life has not happened out of nothing.
All we are seeing is a result of political will from the President Chakwera’s commitment to completely eradicate the abuse of our respected chiefs.
The First National Chiefs Forum on Natural Resources Management is one example of how chiefs can be vital in transforming Malawi.