Leader of opposition and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Dr Lazarous Chakwera and former party president John Tembo on Wednesday December 3 led tribute to founding president Ngwazi Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda at a memorial ceremony on his mausoleum in the capital Lilongwe.
Chakwera paid an emotional tribute to “a visionary and legendary leader.”
The self-styled “president-for-life” ruled the country with an iron fist for three decades, but was finally beaten at the ballot box in 1994 by Bakili Muluzi of United Democratic Front (UDF) in the country’s first multi-party democratic elections.
Kamuzu, of the generation of African nationalist leaders that came to power at independence, died on November 25, 1997 at Garden City Clinic in South Africa at the age of 101. He was laid to rest on 3 December, 1997.
Chakwera said Kamuzu was a “great statesman” and had welfare of the citizens at heart and not the wrongful self-enrichment that the leaders of today are exhibiting.
“He will always be remembered for his amazing leadership and national building,” he said.
Speaking earlier former MCP president John Tembo said Kamuzu served his country “with a lot of dedication and devotion.”
Tembo also advised MCP to remain united and continue to strengthen.
One observer told Nyasa Times at the ceremony that although a dictator, in the Kamuzu years crimes such as murder and theft were unheard of and the people were never starved.
“Kamuzu did the best for Malawi and always had Malawi’s interests at heart. Just look what democracy has done to Malawi. Murders and theft are common and cashgate from Muluzi days K1.7bn grows in Bingu wa Mutharika to K92 billion and K30 billon in Joyce Banda two years rule and now continue in different form in Peter Mutharika reign through NAC-gate and Macra,” said Pius Nkhoma.
He continued: “The currency has devalued from once being 2 kwacha to the pound to over 520 kwacha today. The democracy in Malawi has taken Malawi back 200 years and it has to take a lot of time to make up the standards set by the Ngwazi. Kamuzu Banda without doubt did the best for Malawi and now you have politicians stealing public funds and abusing government funds. “
Some of the renowned people who attended the memorial ceremony included former speaker of National Assembly Louis Chimango, former Finance Minister Ken Kandodo, and MCP Vice President who is also the current Speaker of national Assembly, Richard Msowoya and former hostess Cecilia Tamanda Kadzamira.
Meanwhile, Kamuzu’s family had made a fresh appeal to the government for the founding president’s retirement package; two years after an earlier communication did not yield a response.
Family lawyer Ralph Mhone said they are yet to get a response from the government after sending a notice to the Office of the Attorney General.
Reads the notice of claim: “We, therefore, claim for gratuity, monthly pension, benefits and facilities as provided under Section 4 (1) (c) of the Presidents (Salaries and Benefits) Act [and Part 111 of the Schedule of the Act] Cap 2:02 of the Laws of Malawi. Your due attention to this matter will be highly appreciated.”
He said the notice of claim said Kamuzu, who left office in 1994 after having ruled the country from 1964, was never paid any benefits for his service to the nation or recognition as a retired head of state.–(Additional reporting by Wanga Gwede, Nyasa Times)Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :