JB pays tribute to sister, Masangwi shows up at funeral

Body of the late Mrs Festa Ntila Chanthunya, sister to President Joyce Banda was laid to rest on Tuesday at Ntogolo Village in Domasi, Zomba where thousands of mourners led by the president paid their last respects.

In her eulogy, President Banda said her sister was a “hard working woman” who was more of a mother to her.

President Banda said she was always inspired by how her sister feared and loved God citing John 6 and Mathew 14 as bible chapters Mrs Chanthunya loved to share with her.

Vice President Khumbo Kachali expressed his heartfelt condolences to the Head of State and the entire bereaved family for such a great loss.

Others who spoke included Traditional Authority Malemia and Group Village Head man Ntogolo.

Funeral ceremony

Fire brand DPP regional governor for the South, Noel Masangwi had people talking in low tones today when he attended burial ceremony.

Masangwi is the architect of the now infamous adage ‘Malawi is not ready for a female president’. He is the one who is alleged to have pioneered Peter Mutharika’s ascendacy to being next in line of succession in DPP, bypassing Joyce Banda, the vice president.

Banda was eventually sacked from DPP after refusing to support Peter Mutharika.

Masangwi is also on record accusing  Banda of treason, saying she was plotting to overthrow the government with ‘regime change’ agenda championed by Public Affairs Committee.

But multitudes who flocked to Domasi were surprised to see the youthful tycoon arrive at the funeral and sat amongst ordinary folks, condoled some of the bereaved and freely mingled with ruling People’s Party politicians.

Masangwi attended the full burial service and left after bidding farewell to PP gurus and dignitaries immediately after the burial.

A source close to Masangwi explained that he  only attended the funeral because he was representing the DPP.

“Masangwi practices civilised politics, he believes people shouldn’t be enemies just because they belong to different political sides. This is a funeral, and we have to mourn with our president.”

Masangwi declared soon after the demise of president Mutharika that he wouldn’t defect from the DPP no matter what, saying he opts for the party to see where it went wrong and work towards getting back into power in 2014.

Nyasa Times  investigations have however revealed that the youthful politician has been talking to some PP heavyweights, especially its close ally treasurer general Brown Mpinganjira on how best he can work with the PP.

Mpinganjira is indebted to Masangwi, who has come to the former strongman’s rescue with cash assistance in time of need, according to sources.

But a political observer noted that Masangwi might have realised that being in opposition might prove catastrophic for his business empire.

“The biggest business provider is government. Looking at Mr Masangwi’s business interests am sure he has realised that there is no future being in opposition,” explained the observor.

Masangwis interests range from a construction company, marketting agency, and a freight company, all of which thrived with business from government.

One of his companies, Rays Constration recently came in the limelight after newspapers queried how it was awarded a K54 Million deal to construct a car park at Malawi RevenueAuthority premises in Blantyre.

Chanthunya’s death

Late Chanthunya, third born in her family died on Sunday at Mwaiwanthu Private Hospital in Blantyre after a long battle with diabetes.

Mourners held a vigil at Mudi state residence in Blantyre from Sunday till Tuesday morning when the body was taken to St Columba CCAP for a church mass service before proceeding to Domasi for burial.

Some notable faces who attended the church service on Monday, among senior Government officials included former Information Minister Patricia Kaliati, leader of Malawi Congress Party John Tembo, former First lady Calista Mutharika and Blantyre based business magnet Leston Mulli.

Died at the age of 54, late Festa Ntila Chanthunya is survived by two children Andekuche and Lekereni.—(Additional reporting by Nyasa Times special correspondent)

President Banda and First Gentleman paying their last respects. Photo by Fallys Ngalauka/Nyasa Times

Late Mrs Chanthunya's surviving children laying their wreaths: Lekereni and Andekuche. Photo by Fallys Ngalauka/Nyasa Times

Casket of late Chanthunya. Photo by Fallys Ngalauka/Nyasa Times

Leader of Opposiiton John Tembo paying last respects. Photo by Fallys Ngalauka/Nyasa Times

Women guild, including President Banda, her sister Mrs Cecilia Kumpukwe and Mrs Kachali. Photo by Fallys Ngalauka/Nyasa Times

Chanthunya's younger sisters laying wreaths. Photo by Fallys Ngalauka/Nyasa Times

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