By Blackson Mkupatira
Mulanje, Decjember 2, Mana: Government through the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) in partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Friday launched Mulanje District Peace Committee as one way of promoting peace across the nation.
Speaking during the ceremony, held under the theme “Promoting the right to peace through District Peace Committee” at Mulanje Park Stadium, Principal Secretary for Administration in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Cliff Chiunda said the committee would serve as a pillar for peace building and conflict prevention in the district.
He said that, “Even though the country is known across the globe as a peaceful country, the peace we enjoy must not be taken for granted. This is why as government we identified the need for establishing these peace committees in all the 28 districts across the country to help maintain that peace”.
Chiunda explained that he is optimistic that the newly established DPCs would resolve common misunderstandings such as land disputes, chieftaincy wrangles, and political conflicts in the district.
“The committee is also very crucial this time as we approach the 2019 elections. We trust them to defuse any potential political tensions before they turn violent,” Principal Secretary for Administration said.
Chiunda advised the committee members to be non partisan during mediation and to desist from taking bribes saying they must be of highest virtue to ensure the effectiveness of committee.
Chairperson for Civil Service Organizations National Taskforce on the National Peace Architecture, Apostle Dr. Madalitso Mbewe said it is the responsibility of every citizen in the country to safeguard the peace this nation enjoys.
“A lot of wars happening in the world started with small conflicts that were once neglected. So we are banking on this committee to work with the people and resolve such conflicts before they escalate so that our children grow up in a peaceful environment,” he pointed out.
Mangochi District Peace Committee, Fr. Steven Kamanga said the committee has proven to be helpful in preventing and resolving major conflict in their district since it was established during the pilot phase in 2016.
He gave an example of how in 2016 they intervened and brought peace when Muslims and Christians were at the verge of war due to a misunderstanding.
Mulanje District Council Chairperson, Isaac Brazio said the committee would be helpful as cultural and political conflicts are prominent in the district.
“Many of the conflicts we have are political and cultural in nature. We have struggled, together with the police and other Peacekeeping committees in the district to resolve them but sometimes we fell short. I believe with the coming of this committee we will work together to promote peace in the district,” he noted said.
Mulanje District Commissioner (DC), Charles Makanga lamented on the increase in land disputes that lead to loss of life and property.
He said he hopes with the coming of the committee, many disputes would be sorted before escalating arguing that they hinders the progress of development in the district.
Ethel Lihoma, a youth representative who was vetted as a committee member with eight other members including chiefs, religious leaders and representatives from other special interest groups, said they are ready to work with the people of Mulanje to bring peace and unity.
Mulanje is now the sixth district to have such an establishment following Karonga, Mangochi, Balaka, Nkhata Bay and Nsanje.
During the event the committee members were given a Smartphone each to ease communication challenges and one laptop to be used by secretariat.