There was commotion between supporters of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) at the Tumbuka’s Cultural Festival Gonapamuhanya in Rumphi on Sunday over the sitting arrangement of their party leaders.
MCP supporters were enraged to note that event organisers reserved no seat at the high table for their leader Lazarus Chakwera and Vice President Richard Msowoya who is also Speaker of Parliament.
Clad in their party colours, youths and women supporters of the two political parties were seen pushing and shoving each other in order to sit closer to their leaders.
Northern Region Youth Director for the main opposition Jonathan Mgomezulu maintained they would not sit and watch the organisers being used by the ruling machinery to sideline the MCP leaders who he said hold public offices.
“Speaker of Parliament is third in the chain of command, you don’t let him sit at the back as though he doesn’t matter! It’s not on,” he said.
The scuffle delayed the function for about 50 minutes, thus forcing the director of ceremonies to intervene by reminding the fighting parties that the event was not political.
Throughout the event, however, the supporters kept outdoing each other in singing and dancing for their respective leaders each time any of them was mentioned in salutation or asked to carry out an activity.
This prompted Chairperson for Rumphi District Council Councillor Harry Munyenyembe to call out the party royalists, accusing them of indiscipline and politicising the celebrations.
“It is not always that we have to do politics, some events like this one are neutral events. Failure to respect and observe that smacks of total indiscipline. Which is bad because we Tumbukas are well known for discipline,” Munyenyembe said.
He added: “Let us know the kind of functions we are going to, that should also determine the kind of dressing. Otherwise, I am somehow disappointed.”
Taking her turn Minister of Civic Education Culture and Community Development Patricia Kaliati in her speech said the presence of the two political parties is evidence that Malawians are united.
She however, metaphorically got back at the MCP that it’s high time it accepted that only one party can rule at a time by saying “too many cooks spoil the broth”.
Speaking in a post-event interview, Kaliati accused the MCP of always trying to provoke the DPP, arguing they never did that when Joyce Banda’s People’s Party (PP) was in power.
Interestingly, guest of honour to the event Kondwani Nankhumwa who is Minister of Local Government and Rural development did not comment on the happenings.
Other notable politicians present to the event were Vice President for the PP for the North Kamlepo Kalua, Minister of Home Affairs Jappie Mhango and Alliance for Democracy (Aford) President Enock Chihana.
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