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Lazarus Chakwera misses commemorations over insecurity

By Rebecca Chimjeka:

Main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) leader, Lazarus Chakwera, failed to attend John Chilembwe Day commemorations at Providence Industrial Mission in Chiradzulu District Tuesday due to fears of insecurity.

MCP secretary general, Elsenhower Mkaka, Tuesday said Chakwera and other MCP officials returned to Lilongwe following a tip that they risked their lives if they attended the event.

Chakwera was attacked when he attended a similar event last year.

However, Minister of Information, Communication and Technology, Henry Mussa, Tuesday dismissed the claims, saying the day is a national event open to all.

He said Chakwera’s name was on the programme and was supposed to lay a wreath at John Chilembwe Memorial Tower.

“It is not true that Chakwera was barred from attending the function. If you are talking about security, how come everyone who was invited attended the function? Police officers were deployed to the function to provide security. What security is Mkaka talking about? They should tell Malawians other reasons as to why they failed to attend the event,” Mussa said.

Chakwera was invited to the memorial service.

“They drove early in the morning all the way from Lilongwe and were just a kilometre or two away from the venue when they were tipped to go back by the party’s security team that was on the ground, which said that the situation was very volatile,” Mkaka said.

He said learning from experience, MCP was in touch with the church, the event’s organisers and the church’s general secretary, Rev Namwayi, who assured them that there would be no repeat of what happened last year.

He said the church assured them that Apostle Timothy Khoviwa, Chiradzulu District Commissioner and top Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials were called to a meeting where they were told that the church did not want a repeat of what happened last year.

He said, surprisingly, the MCP team on the ground was told that only Chakwera was invited to the function and, therefore, two seats were allocated to him.

Mkaka said their security team observed that the situation was volatile as DPP Cadets were seen posturing behind two seats that were allocated to Chakwera.

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