Malawi President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera on Saturday led hundreds of Malawians and international dignitaries in commemorating the life of Malawi’s first President Ngwazi Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda.
The commemoration took place at the Kamuzu Mausoleum, which is located next to the Parliament Building in Lilongwe.
He led under the theme “Reflecting the culture of unity for nation-building”, this year’s commemoration attracted people of various professions and cadres, including diplomats, religious leaders, Cabinet ministers and traditional leaders, among others.
In his remarks, Chakwera touted the departed Head of State as a true statesman who loved the country to the core.
He said despite having weaknesses just like any human being, the late Ngwazi did not allow disunity among Malawians.
“In fact, unity was the first of four pillars that he promoted continuously in order to help us build our country soon after the attainment of independence. The other three pillars he promoted for nation building were loyalty, obedience, and discipline. There are a few who believe that having a national holiday for reflecting on Malawi’s Founding President is a waste of time.
“It is their right and freedom to believe as they please, but I and millions of other Malawians disagree. Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s impact on the foundations of this nation, both in the manner he ascended to power and in the manner he relinquished power, as well as in the manner he used power, was so consequential and monumental that to reflect on him is to reflect on ourselves as a people,” said Chakwera.
He added that Kamuzu Banda is the only figure in Malawi’s history “who led the nation so long that it is impossible to look at him without seeing the best and worst of ourselves as a people.”
He said Kamuzu’s best capacity was to unite Malawians for development.
“There are developments he built in the south, developments he built in the center, and developments he built in the north. In every region of the country, he built schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, farms, and airports. He had the vision and wisdom to know that while it is well and good to let everyone have their own religion and tribe, and later even agreed to let everyone choose their own party, it would be a tragic mistake to use people’s freedom to belong to different parties, religions, and tribes as a weapon for dividing them in matters of national development,” said Chakwera.
He added, “But when the Ngwazi left office in 1994, many of us in this nation made the mistake of thinking that the new freedom of democracy was a form of license. But freedom and license are not the same. Freedom is the ability to have and make choices without harming the things it values most, not the ability to do whatever one wants. There is no nation on earth that allows people to do whatever they want.
“Every nation has laws that forbid things it deems to be harmful to its citizens, laws that forbid things it deems to be harmful to its resources, laws that forbid things it deems to be harmful to its economy, laws that forbid things it deems to be harmful to its social cohesion, laws that forbid things it deems to be harmful to its freedoms. A strong nation is one that moves into the future upholding freedoms in one hand and upholding laws in the other.”
But Chakwera observed that in 1994, Malawians carried freedom in one hand and moved with speed into the future without carrying the law in the other hand.
As a result, narrated Chakwera, Malawi has had 26 years of lawlessness in many sectors, lawlessness in agriculture, lawlessness in politics, lawlessness in elections, lawlessness in the media, lawlessness in government institutions, lawlessness in nongovernmental organizations, lawlessness in the embassies, lawlessness in the banks, lawlessness in land grabbing, and even lawlessness in law enforcement agencies and the legal fraternity itself.
“When I said during the campaign that one of my missions is to restore the rule of law, it was my goal to remove this imbalance between freedom and law. We must have a balance between both in order to ensure that we are not only a free nation, but also a strong and united one. Without unity and strength, we cannot build lasting things or accomplish difficult things. My appeal to all of you on this day is to let this work be completed. Just two days ago I signed 15 bills into law in order to make Malawi stronger by ending the lawlessness that prevails in many sectors.
“My appeal to all of you is that you do your part in helping make Malawi stronger by upholding these laws. There is no intention to take away anyone’s freedom. My only intention is to end the culture of lawlessness that has prevailed in this country for over two decades. In fact, these laws are designed to protect freedom for everyone, because although lawlessness can feel like freedom, it only guarantees freedom for a few people and denies the majority of their freedoms. When there are strong laws and everyone is accountable to the same laws, we have a fair and just society, and then we can be a united and strong Malawi that can achieve anything,” emphasized Chakwera.
Chakwera also stressed the need for Malawi to look after resting places of past presidents who have died.
He said it is not right that the government provides care for the mausoleum for Kamuzu Banda, yet it does not provide care for the mausoleum of late President Bingu wa Mutharika.
“Professor Mutharika was our nation’s President and his resting place must be cared for because we are all one people. If we cannot put away our differences and unite in respecting our own Presidents even in their deaths, then we will be doomed as a nation. I am therefore directing the Minister to engage the Mutharika family on how we as government can give late Professor Bingu’s resting place the honour and dignity it deserves,” said Chakwera.
Kamuzu Banda – who died in November 1997 – ruled Malawi from 1964 to 1994 when he handed over power to former President Bakili Muluzi who emerged winner in the first multiparty elections in May 1994.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :