Declare July 20 national day—Opposition
OPPOSITION parties have asked government to declare July 20 as a national day for Malawians to be celebrating the lives of 21 people who were shot and killed by police during the July 20, 2011 mass demonstrations.
The parties are also demanding that government must construct a memorial pillar for the deceased in Mzuzu City, arguing the deceased remain heroes. But government spokesperson, Nicholas Dausi, has said government will look into the proposal and further make proper consultations before making its decision.
Alliance for Democracy (Aford) President, Enock Chihana, made the proposal which was supported by all opposition parties during the memorial service that was held yesterday at Zolozolo Cemetery in Mzuzu.
The service attracted politicians such as Leader of Opposition, Lazarus Chakwera, former vice president, Khumbo Kachali, Mzimba North legislator, Agnes Nyalonje, representing People’s Party, Member of Parliament for Mzimba West Harry Mkandawire and Frank Mwenifumbo from Karonga Central.
Chihana said the opposition parties would work together and present a bill in the next sitting of Parliament pushing for the day, arguing it is important in the country’s democratic history.
“We are going to force government to declare July 20 as a national day. If it will ignore our proposal, we are not going to pass next national budget. “We have also heard that the bereaved families struggled to get their compensations through their lawyers and they spent a lot. Now we are saying the next National Budget should include the revised compensation, otherwise the budget will not be passed,” Chihana challenged.
Chihana’s sentiments were echoed by Kachali who said Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration should not take Northerners for granted by among others shunning such national events.
Kachali, however, said Chihana’s idea should not be a mere talk but be implemented in time so that it bears fruits. “Let these politicians accept that they killed innocent people. Now they are supposed to be honoured accordingly as we honour [John] Chilembwe Day and other days,” Kachali said.
However, Dausi accused the opposition parties of politicking over July 20 events by misleading Malawians with wrong information about the killings.
But while supporting Chihana’s idea, Nyalonje said the Church and Society of Livingstonia Synod of Church of Central Africa Presbyterian should establish July 20 Foundation where financial support can be rendered towards the event and children who were left behind.
In his remarks, Chakwera said it is sad that Malawians forget such killings and still vote for a government suspected to be behind the deaths. “Wake up Malawians. Let’s not make such mistakes again. Let’s fight for our better Malawi and so that killings like these shall be history,” Chakwera said.
However, speaking on behalf of the bereaved families, Mercy Mbezuma Mfune, said the families want the case back to court, arguing the truth of the matter must prevail.
“Government compensated us. However, we struggled to get the money as a result, we spent a lot on our lawyer and other necessary activities. This left us with little and we are failing to take care of the children who were left behind. Therefore, we wish we met government in court again,” Mfune said.
The memorial service started with a solidarity march from Mataifa Market which Chakwera was part of. Government officials shunned the event as Dausi described it as an entertainment gathering for opposition politicians. Members of the clergy from Livingstonia Synod and others from Anglican led the service.
A vibrant writer who gives a great insight on hot topics and issues