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Hundreds escort Sam Mpasu

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Government hijacked the burial ceremony of former Speaker of Parliament Sam Mpasu, throwing away a programme that was put together by his family and the organising committee despite having prior knowledge and discussions.

The initial programme that was circulated at the funeral ceremony indicated that Leader of Opposition in Parliament and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera would be among those to give their eulogies.

Mpasu, who died as leader of the New Labour Party, worked with other opposition leaders, including Chakwera, as they offered suggestions to the Democratic Progressive Party-led administration to ease hardships that Malawians are facing.

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However, a programme that the Office of the President and Cabinet circulated later, at the start of the ceremony, did not include Chakwera.

MCP acting secretary general, Eisenhower Mkaka, described the development as regrettable, saying Chakwera should have been given a chance to speak on behalf of all opposition political parties.

“This situation is not strange, we have witnessed a number of times where government deliberately sidelined the leader of opposition. However, what they did not realise was that the late Mpasu was working with fellow opposition leaders as he was a party president [New Labour Party].

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“By all means, Chakwera was supposed to represent opposition political parties because he is the leader of opposition parties in and outside Parliament. And the initial programme reflected that,” he said.

Efforts to speak to government officials proved futile as Chief Secretary to the Government, Lloyd Muhara, did not pick our calls. Bright Msaka Minister of Education, Science and Technology who was present at the ceremony opted to speak on phone later.

“The timing is wrong. How about you calling me? I would definitely love to talk to you,” he said.

Government spokesperson, Nicholas Dausi could not be reached as his phone was off on several attempts.

At exactly 12:20pm the casket carrying the remains of Mpasu was taken outside the funeral house, draped in the national colours. Thousands of grief-stricken mourners, from across the social fabric, gathered to pay their last respects to their father, former Member of Parliament (MP), former Speaker and the community’s patriarch.

In their eulogies, John and Chisomo, a son and last-born daughter to Mpasu, described their father as a disciplinarian who wished nothing but the best for his children, family and the country as a whole.

“Today, we are gathered here to bid farewell to a Member of Parliament and former Speaker. But to us, we are bidding farewell to our father; the one who taught us to love one another, the one who encouraged us to work hard in school. Let us all celebrate his life,” Chisomo said.

Inkosi Kwataine said the death of Mpasu has torn the village apart, arguing the departed politician loved his people.

He confessed that it was only during Mpasu’s 10-year tenure as an MP that the area experienced development worth pointing at.

“When he was an MP, he started a bursary programme through which he would pay school fees for about 60 students. I say this without fear of contradiction because he used to get the list of beneficiaries from my office.

“He formed a group called Malawians Living in Sweden who would give us support in different forms through him. He was a man who knew where he came from despite his status. We have lost a true son of Ntcheu Central Constituency,” he said.

Vice-President Saulos Chilima, who represented President Peter Mutharika, said the country’s history cannot be narrated without the mention of Mpasu who fought for the freedom that Malawians are enjoying.

Kuya kwa chitsime kumadziwika chikaphwera [the depth of the well is known when it is dry]. We have heard all the testimonies about the late Mpasu. If we have a record of people who wrote about our country and did not include Mpasu, that book is clearly incomplete. This man tirelessly and fearlessly fought for the freedom of the nation,” Chilima said.

As the time struck 14:50pm, Mpasu’s body was interred. This saddest part of the ceremony was punctuated by a 21-gun-salute by officers of the Malawi Defence Force, placing an eternal seal on Mpasu’s 73 year-journey on earth where he dined with kings and got incarcerated alongside villains.

He is survived by six children.

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