By Wezzie Gausi & Audrey Kapalamula:
Malawi Congress Party president Lazarus Chakwera and his UTM counterpart Saulos Chilima Thursday joined hundreds of mourners that gathered in Area 22 in Lilongwe to bid farewell to two of the seven victims of the Lilongwe UTM office fire attack.
Mother Ayiles Tambala and son Shukuran succumbed to burn wounds in less than 24 hours.
Seven members of the Tambala family—two parents and five children—were severely burnt when the building they were staying in, which also happens to be a UTM party office in Area 22, was on Monday burned down by unknown assailants while they were inside.
Hundreds of people gathered to bid farewell to the victims of what is believed to be political violence that analysts say might increase ahead of the July 2, fresh presidential election.
Speaking at the funeral, Chakwera said what happened to the family is pathetic and that time is coming when the culprits will face more than what the Tambala family has gone through.
“Today I speak with sadness as we are saying goodbye to our fellow Malawians who lost their lives in a miserable way. This family did not deserve to die like this. This is barbaric and we condemn it to the fullest. It is our prayer that the change that people need hould come fast,” Chakwera said.
Chilima said Malawians are tired of the endless evils that are happening in the country and that time for change is near.
“If there is one person that is angry with what has happened, it is me. There is no way someone with a right frame of mind can do such a thing to an innocent family.
“Today we are burying these two but trust me, those that did this to the family will not live to enjoy their lives to the fullest,” Chilima said.
Chief for the area William Banda appealed to well-wishers to consider supporting the remaining members of the family as they have nothing to lean on adding that the family was already living in poverty.
The Tambala family was petrol-bombed on Monday and they were rushed to Kamuzu Central Hospital where the remaining three are still battling with their lives.
Earlier in the day the two leaders attended prayers that were organised by alliance supporters to pray for unity and the forthcoming July 2 presidential election.
During the prayers Chakwera said unity is critical for the country’s development hence people need to work together.
“We have come to where we are now because political leaders have been at the centre of dividing the country and unity is paramount.
“We must have unity of action, vision and direction. If we work together as people who want to build a new Malawi, I believe this unity is critical,” he said
He added that seeking God’s intervention was crucial considering the bankruptcy of the nation spiritually and on integrity.
On his part, Chilima spoke against disunity in the alliance.
“We want Chakwera to be a good president and it is our responsibility to ensure that happens. We will build our rapport so that whatever happens between a president and their vice does not repeat itself.
Reverend Brian Kamwendo led the prayers and asked the leaders to keep in mind the mandate they have for the benefit of people of Malawi.