Sombre arrival

Lazarus Chakwera returns to nation overcome by disaster


A sombre mood greeted President Lazarus Chakwera Tuesday, when he arrived at Kamuzu International Airport from Qatar, where he attended a Least Developed Countries meeting.

Alighting from the plane at around 15:28 hours, people with sad faces welcomed the President following the devastation caused by Cyclone Freddy, which has claimed people’s lives and damaged property.

On a normal day, party supporters sing, dance and ululate for the President while government officials, traditional leaders and other stakeholders throng to the airport to welcome the President in a jovial mood.


But, yesterday, this was not the case as there were no party women and traditional dances at the airport.

Chakwera’s face was down and he only spoke to journalists for about 40 seconds.

“I’m saddened by the loss of lives and destruction of infrastructure. I was following [issues] and I was being told about reports by Dodma [Department of Disaster Management Affairs], MDF [Malawi Defence Force] and [Cabinet] ministers. So, I’m keen to go and see for myself what has happened and the devastation in our country,” he said.


Chakwera called for support from people, organisations and development partners.

“The First Lady and I have returned from the Qatar tour of duty. Sadly, this is a distressing homecoming, for we have arrived to a devastated nation facing the brunt of Tropical Cyclone Freddy. On top of claiming over 190 lives thus far, the cyclone continues to pose enormous inconveniences to thousands of livelihoods across the country.

“It is for this reason that, hours after the first preliminary assessment of the damage, I declared a state of disaster in most parts of the Southern Region as [a] way of mobilising global support towards recovery. Let me heartily commend all private citizens and institutions that are already on the ground complementing government efforts in recovery of bodies, relocation of the displaced and donating various items to provide comfort to affected communities. You are rendering a selfless and noble service to the nation. Let us all unite in the face of this national grief,” Chakwera said.

Vice President Saulos Chilima was among those that welcomed the President.

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