Ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) politicised the Easter Sunday Rumphi boat tragedy and blocked members of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) Synod of Livingstonia from mourning with the families of the victims in Mlowe, mostly members of the church.
The synod had declared the accident a ‘Church National Disaster’, with general secretary Reverend Levi Nyondo saying the synod has been affected spiritually, physically and statistically as they say death toll is at 15 and not five as presented by government officials.
And when Rev Nyondo led synod clerics who included his deputy Reverend Joseph Mwale, Moderator Reverend Douglas Chipofya and CCAP General Assembly Moderator Timothy Nyasulu to conduct prayers at the funeral of one of the victims of the boat tragedy, they were blocked by DPP in Mlowe.
DPP regional governor Kenneth Sanga blocked the synod from conducting prayer on the pretext that Minister of Finance Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe was coming to the bereaved families “to deliver condolence message.”
Sanga also ordered Traditional Authority Mwamulowe to block the synod from coming to the house of the deceased.
“We have been instructed by DPP officials no activities should be done here at the house so go back,” Mwamulowe said.
But the synod said it could not follow the politician program when conducting a funeral service.
Synod proceeded with the funeral program but DPP members boycotted.
Nyondo said the church will organise a memorial service for all the boat victims.
Police and government confirmed that 79 people had boarded the 40-passenger capacity boat on their way back home from Easter Sunday prayers.
The group was returning from Mlowe where they attended the Easter church service heading to their home at Tchalo and other areas along Lake Malawi in Rumphi District, a distance of about 45 kilometres.
It is reported that upon arrival at Zunga, the overloaded boat was hit by a storm that made the operator fail to control it; hence it capsized.
People’s Party vice-president Kamlepo Kalua, who is Member of Parliament (MP) for Rumphi East where the accident happened, said he also got reports of 15 deaths.
Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) director of response and recovery Paul Kalilombe maintained that the number of dead is five.
Kalilombe assured that the Malawi Defence Force officers from Chilumba Barracks are on site of the accident “to continue searching for those missing, in collaboration with the Malawi Police Service until they complete the rescue exercise.”
On funeral costs, Klailombe said:“Government undertakes to provide assistance towards the cost of the funeral arrangements of the victims of the accident and hospital bills of those who are receiving medical attention in hospital following this misfortune.”
The boat belongs to 69-year-old Harrison Ngwira of Kabenu village, Traditional Authority Mbwana in Nkhatabay .Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :