Organisers of Martyrs’ Day commemorations in Nkhata Bay were on Tuesday March 3 left bitterly disappointed when their guest of honour Malawi “vice president” from the May nullified presidential election Everton Chimulirenji, who was recently appointed Minister for Disaster Management Affairs and Public Events, failed to attend.
It was more than a little embarrassing for organisers as there were murmurs of disapproval and contempt when director of ceremonies kept on only saying guest of honour without mentioning any name because the designated one, Minister Chimulirenji, did not show up.
Apparently the absence was expected after the ‘null and void’ vice president turned Minister faced attacks on social media as to why he had accepted to be guest of honour in the presence of the current State Vice President Saulos Chilima.
Chimulirenji got his role as Vice President relinquished following the landmark ruling by the country’s constitutional court to have the May presidential election nullified on grounds of “grave, systematic and widespread irregularities which undermined the credibility of the results”.
The court reinstated the presidency that was there before the May polls, a move that saw President Peter Mutharika and his former vice president, now turned political rival, Chilima, back at the helm of power as the country awaits fresh election
Despite Chimulirenji not showing up, Cabinet Minister Francis Phiso assumed the role of the guest of honour in the presence of the country’s second-in-command Chilima and former president Joyce Banda.
However, Chilima seemed unbothered as he kept sharing jokes with Phiso himself and President Banda as well as Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) leadership of Timothy Mtambo and hid deputy Gift Trapence.
Chilima said in an interview that Nkhata Bay holds unique history in the country, and people in the district must work with government to ensure that the 31 people who died on March 3 1959, did not die in vain
The event started with tour of the memorial pillar, then laying of wreaths and ended with prayers and speeches at Chirundu Point Ground.
Every year, on 3rd March, Malawians observe Martyrs Day. Whereas the day invokes sorrowful memories, it is the day the country show respect for the magnanimous men and women who braved bullets, suffered imprisonment and all forms of humiliation during the fight for the freedoms and rights Malawians enjoy today.
It is the day citizens remember and honour its freedom fighters and the values and ideologies they envisaged to make Malawi a better country for all.
Due to the growing strength of the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC), on March 3 1959, colonial masters declared a State of Emergency and at least 200 NAC leaders were detained.
In Nkhata Bay, NAC leaders were arrested and packed into Mpasa Vessel, ready to be transferred to various prisons. When their relatives heard about the arrests, they marched to Nkhata Bay jetty, to demand their release.
However, colonial forces opened fire and 31 protesters died on the spot.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :