There were ugly scenes of violence involving Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) supporters during memorial prayers for Reverend John Chilembwe at the Providence Industrial Mission (PIM) in Chiradzulu on Sunday.
What were meant to be prayers of unification in remembrance of a national hero, dovetailed into a session of blows and badmouthing as supporters of the two biggest parties on the land were involved in scuffles.
One person was severely injured and was rushed to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre.
According to eyewitnesses, the scuffle started when some DPP supporters were intimidating MCP supporters—who were clad in party colours and had accompanied the party president, Lazarus Chakwera—for “encroaching on DPP’s territory”.
The acts of violence did not only involve party supporters as President Peter Mutharika’s bodyguards were seen shoving a Zodiak Broadcasting Station journalist to restrain him from covering the function because he did not have a State House press card.
Ironically, the function was not held at State House and President Mutharika attended the prayers only as a guest just like everyone else and, besides, most reporters did not have the tags.
National police spokesperson James Kadadzera refused to comment on the incidents, arguing that the police are still waiting for a report.
“Nobody has so far come to report to us so we cannot comment on that,” he said.
Speaking at the function, Mutharika said Chilembwe was a great leader who did not falter on his vision despite facing challenges.
“During the uprising, there was famine, Chilembwe had lost a daughter, and he was suffering from asthma. But he carried on with his vision. He was patriotic, hardworking and a man of integrity who loved this country,” he said.
The service started with laying of wreaths by Mutharika, Cabinet ministers, Chakwera, representatives of the church and family members, among others.
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