Mourners from across the political divide come together on Wednesay to honour former Cabinet minister Patrick Mbewe, one of the founders of the United Democratic Front (UDF), who was laid to rest at his Tawa Estate in traditional authority (T/A) Likoswe area in Chiradzulu District.
Mbewe died on Saturday at Blantyre Adventist Hospital after a long illness at the age of 70.
The ceremony was graced by several political heavyweights including UDF president Atupele Muluzi, State vice president Saulos Chilima who is presidential candidate of UTM Party, Malawi Congress Parrty (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera., veteran politician Brown Mpinganjira, leaders of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Cabinet ministers, legislators, the Catholic faithful and thousands from all walks of life attended the funeral..
President Peter Mutharika directed that the late Mbewe be conferred a full military honour at his funeral honours in recognition of his selfless service to his country, especially his gallant contribution towards the fight against the brutal one-party system of government in the early 1990s, Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Kondwani said in his eulogies.
“His Excellency the President was extremely sad upon receiving news of Honourable Mbewe’s death. He would have loved to be here to join the bereaved family and all mourners. However, the President has failed to come due to some reasons and it pleased him to delegate me to convey a message of condolences on his behalf,” said Nankhumwa, who is also governing DPP Vice President for southern region.
Nankhumwa, who in his speech recognised the presence of veep Chilima, noted that the fight against the ruthless one-party regime was immensely dangerous but for the sake of freedom for Malawians, the late Mbewe joined others to bring about multiparty democracy in Malawi.
“The late Mbewe was a very courageous politician. But most importantly he was a selfless servant of the people who invested much of his wealth in the quest for freedom. Above all, he was a generous man who did not only help his family and relatives but everyone; not only his Catholic Church but all religious denominations. The late Mbewe was a likeable person, with a high sense of maturity, discipline and integrity,” said the minister.
The late Mbewe was an extremely successful business mogul. He served as a minister in several portfolios under the UDF government of former President Dr. Bakili Muluzi.
Nankhumwa said as a politician, the late Mbewe gave high regard for “smart politics”. Mbewe was averse to insulting political competitors. He called on “politicians of today” to emulate the late Mbewe and practice “smart politics” and concentrate on issues, which may give rise to a better Malawi society.
“Apart from bringing a message of condolences from the President to the bereaved family, I also wish to inform you that the President also expresses his deepest sympathies to the former President Dr. Bakili Muluzi, who is not here with us today. President Mutharika is well aware about the strong bond of friendship that existed between the late Mbewe and the former President. The two were always there for each other, in grief or happiness,” said Nankhumwa, requesting Muluzi’s son and current president of UDF, Atupele Muluzi, to convey the message to his father.
Former Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo spoke on behalf of the family, thanking President Mutharika for honouring their departed with military honours.
Speaking on behalf of Atupele Muluzi and UDF, the party that the late Mbewe served as Member of Parliament for Chiradzulu central, minister and finally Patron, the party’s Secretary General Kandi Padambo said his death had robbed the party of its great pillar of strength.
“He was our greatest advisor. We shall miss his wise counsel and encouragement and that the gap he has left will be extremely difficult to fill,” said Padambo.
In an interview, Chakwera said: “There are lessons to learn from Mbewe’s political journey and the statement of who he was, is obvious today. There are different political parties here bidding him farewell. This is the way we should live.”
Patrick Blaidon Mbewe was born on 17th November 1948 in Nguludi, Chiradzulu District. A Civil Engineer by profession started his career with the Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi (Escom) and also briefly worked for City of Blantyre before venturing into business.
He started with selling timber and later set up Trust Auctioneers in 1980. This gave him the platform to set up other companies such as Trust Industries which produced Lolofoam Mattresses, and later established Tawa Melamine, the first Malawian Company to produce Melamine plates and kitchenware.
Mbewe spread his business tentacles in other sectors such as hospitality and agriculture through the establishment of of the Chilembwe Lodge located at the heart of Blantyre city and Tawa Estate in Chiradzulu .
As the wind of democracy blew in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s he was part of an underground movement which was involved in the fight against one party rule. This marked in essence the launch of his career in front line politics.
Led by now retired president, Bakili Muluzi and others he founded a pressure group which was then called the United Democratic Front and later registered as UDF political party in October, 1993 after the referendum.
In the UDF party Mbewe served as Treasurer General for several years.
In 1994 the UDF party was elected into government where it pleased Bakili Muluzi to appoint the late Patrick Mbewe in several Cabinet portfolios including Transport and Public works, Tourism, Home affairs, Local Government. He retired from active politics in 2004.
Through out his life he has passionate about assisting the poor and most people from Chiradzulu and beyond have benefited from his generosity.
Mbewe is survived by wife Dorcas Mbewe, seven children and 12 grandchildren.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :