The stage appears to be set for President Peter Mutharika and his embattled Vice-President Saulos Chilima to meet as both have confirmed to attend the funeral of at the funeral service of Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe at Bolero in Rumphi today, Tuesday.
This will probably be the first time the two will meet at an event since Chilima severed ties with the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and formed his own United Transformation Movement (UTM), which has emerged one of DPP’s biggest rivals in the run-up to the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
Initially, Principal Secretary (Administration) the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) , Cliff Chiunda, issued a statement that the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa would represent the President at the funeral service at Chilongozgi Village in Bolero, Rumphi.
The statement added that Mutharika had directed that the late Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe, born Walter John Hardy Gondwe, “be accorded a burial with military honours”.
But after Chilima’s office confirmed the Vice Presudent would attend the funeral ceremony, the second statement issued last evening classified as ‘Revised’ and signed by Chief Secretary to the Government Lloyd Muhara, OPC said the funeral service would start at 1pm and that the President would attend.
“The late Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe will be buried with military honours and His Excellency the President, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, will be in attendance,” reads the statement made available to Nyasa Times.
Leader of opposition and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera is among some political figures to attend the funeral.
CCAP Livingstonia Synod general secretary the Reverend Levi Nyondo has since warned politicians against donning party colours.
During a church service in Mzuzu to see off the chief’s body, he said: “Wearing of political colours brings confusion. We will not allow any person to bring political colours. Anyone who dares will be chased away.”