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Government shuns Kamuzu Day

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Government and ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials Sunday shunned memorial service of worship for the country’s founding father, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, despite being invited to the event.

The official programme for the memorial service indicated that a government representative would speak.

Also conspicuously missing from the event was the leadership of People’s Party (PP), who, according to Kamuzu family, was also invited.

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“There is no single person in what are regarded high offices who did not get an invitation letter and the method that we used has remained the same for the past 18 years. If they are not here then they can explain themselves but we did invite both government and the opposition.

“A few days ago, we sent out invitation cards to all parties that are represented in Parliament, DPP, MCP [Malawi Congress Party] , UDF [United Democratic Front] and PP. So, I do not believe that there is anyone who can claim that they did not know that we would be here,” Ken Kandodo who spoke on behalf of the Chendawaka family said.

Kamuzu, who led Malawi to independence in 1964 and then ruled for 30 years, died in 1997 at the Garden City Clinic in South Africa.

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During Kamuzu’s reign, Malawians were celebrating his birthday, and it was a public holiday. Former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika reintroduced the holiday in his first term.

When contacted for a comment, Minister of Information Nicholas Dausi asked for more time to consult.

However, DPP spokesperson Francis Kasaila defended the party’s absence, arguing that the event was a Chendawaka family affair.

He said by attending such an event would mean DPP was politicising it, which in the long run would reflect differently.

“Our understanding in the party is that the invitation was for all Malawians and it is not about any party. Our understanding is that Malawians, some from the DPP and other parties, attended.

“Only if the family wants to politicise the event but as far as I am concerned, the event was meant for Malawians and they attended regardless of their political affiliation,” Kasaila said.

PP Publicity Secretary, Noah Chimpeni, was not sure why his party was not represented at the event.

Despite the absence of the political heads and government officials, the memorial service, which took place in Mzuzu for the first time, had all the features of a high-level event, with most speakers noticing Kamuzu’s good deeds and contributions to the country.

In his remarks, Deputy Mayor for Mzuzu City Alexander Mwakikunga said the country has never had a visionary leader like Kamuzu.

His remarks were also echoed by parliamentarian for Mzimba West Harry Mkandawire.

He said Kamuzu managed to handle the country’s economy through meaningful agriculture activities.

“If some of us fail to admit that Kamuzu was visionary, it means we are jealous. Getting rid of white minority rule was not easy. Construction of roads and ensuring that tobacco farming benefited local people was not an easy task. Not these lies that are happing now,” Mkandawire said.

In his sermon, Reverend Kondwani Gondwe of Church of Central Africa Presbyterian reminded the current leadership to treat people fairly.

Gondwe gave examples of some people who were arrested after they were found with huge sums of money in their houses while others involved in similar acts, are not being arrested.

“This country is rotten. There is no direction towards development. What is common is theft in both government and other organisations. Kamuzu shared developments on merit. But now things have changed. Let Jesus [Christ] help us,” Gondwe said.

MCP President, who is also Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Lazarus Chakwera, who was in attendance, reiterated that the party has undergone a metamorphosis period and that Malawians will never experience the atrocities that are associated with the one party rule.

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