Banda unity talk resonates after Bingu’s burial

As the afternoon slowly gave way to evening, thousands of people that came to the sprawling Ndata Farm started leaving one by one leaving their dead president to spend the first still of night at Mpumulo wa Bata (peaceful rest) Mausoleum lying side by side with his first wife Ethel.

Soon, nights will turn into days and days into weeks and months; and before long, the State Funeral of President Bingu wa Mutharika will recede be just a distant memory.

But one thing will resonate with the aspirations of many Malawians that both attended the burial ceremony on April 23, 2012 and followed the proceedings on the local radio stations and television—the new President Her Excellency Joyce Banda struck a unity chord when she made her final eulogy on Monday afternoon.

President Banda lays a wreath at Mutharika. – Photo credit: REUTERS/Eldson Chagara

President Banda, who was flanked by her husband and retired Chief Justice Richard Banda, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and the bereaved former First Lady Callista Mutharika, among top local and foreign dignitaries, said Malawians should only remember the positive side of the departed leader.

“We should remember him for the good contribution he made towards the upliftment of his people. My President taught me and the entire Malawi population to be positive about life; he told me to dream in colour,” she told a somber crowd, as being among some of the positive advices President Mutharika gave her.

President Banda said there was close proximity between her and the late President having served under him as foreign minister where they travelled to many international destinations together and thereby learnt many good things about him.

“He was a great leader and we shall all miss his fatherly attitude,” she said, adding that his death must be a unifying factor among all Malawians of different political, cultural and social persuasions.

She added; “He was not an angel, he made mistakes, so let us not remember the bad things, let us remember about the positive things about Bingu.”

The President pledged to continue implementing Mutharika’s policies and to see through his vision of uplifting Malawians from the poverty circle.

Her remarks at the burial ceremony confirmed the commitment she was made when she was inaugurated as President on April 7, 2012. She pledged not to pursue politics of retribution but to encourage dialogue and reconciliation, which are the hallmarks of her People’s Party (PP) government.

The burial ceremony was attended by foreign heads of state and government, including Zimbabwe’s President and Prime Minister, Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsangrai, respectively, Jakaya Kikwete, President of Tanzania and Zambia’s Vice President, Guy Scott, among others.

Banda was unceremoniously dismissed in December 2010 from Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for opposing efforts to make the President’s brother, Peter, successor to Mutharika when national elections are due in 2014.

She continued to serve as Vice President of the Republic courtesy of the Republican Constitution but went on to form her own party, the PP.

She is yet to name her own cabinet, which observers say will not retain many of the faces in the current cabinet that she inherited after the death of President Mutharika.

President Banda lays a wreath at Mutharika. – Photo credit: REUTERS/Eldson Chagara

President Banda: In step for national unity

President Banda pays last respect to Mutharika (AP Photo/Thoko Chikondi)

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