They say in politics there are neither permanent friends nor permanent enemies; this was exactly the scenario at Sanjika palace Friday morning when old time comrades joined President Joyce Banda to pay final respects before the remains of late president Bingu wa Mutharika are interred in Thyolo on Monday.
Lighter moments begun to unfold soon after the arrival of former head of state Bakili Muluzi with a phalanx of his entourage at exactly 8:10am.
He found the likes of former vice president Cassim Chilumpha, his one time right hand man Brown Mpinganjira, Peter Chupa, Humphrey Mvula, lawmaker Henry Phoya, Gwanda Chakuamba and Kamplepo Kalua already seated. He started greeting one by one to the excitement of a horde of mourners that thronged the room where Mutharika’s body is lying in state.
Then former first lady Patricia Shanil Muluzi also joined the distinguished mourners.
Bakili and Shanil divorced due to what they described as “irreconcilable disagreements.”
When President Banda arrived at exactly 9am, she was welcomed by vice president Khumbo Kachali, who minutes before was seen sharing good moments with his former colleagues in the DPP such as Wakuda Kamanga, Chimunthu Banda, Nicholas Dausi, Hetherwick Ntaba and Noel Masangwi.
Meanwhile, inside the room where the viewing was being held, Muluzi could be seen cracking one or two jokes with Chilumpha and he later shared a word or two with President Banda.
Unlike in Lilongwe and Mzuzu, the Sanjika ceremony was brief as the State President had to be excused back to Mudi residence for some official engagements.
Soon after President Banda embarked in the convertible Mercedes Benz S class accompanied by First Gentleman retired chief justice Richard Banda , a convoy carrying second citizen Kachali followed .
Then Muluzi who had to disembark from his state of the art Range Rover Discovery 4 registered “FP” to share few jokes with Catholic bishop Tarsizio Ziyaye and auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Blantyre Montfort Sitima.
Outside the heavily fortified palace that used to be the base of Malawi’s founding father Hastings Kamuzu Banda, there were meanders of long queues that could be seen all the way to the Msonkho house building which is a distance of about three kilometers.
Meanwhile, there were mixed reactions expressed by a cross section of Malawians who ascended to the state house to view body of the fallen leader.
Others especially former ruling DPP sympathizers wore grief faces while some could be seen sharing some lighter moments.
“I don’t understand up to now, imagine a fortnight ago we were in government as ruling party today we are here standing for hours to see the body of our beloved leader,” said a visibly shocked Matilda Matenje a senior DPP official for Blantyre district.
Another mourner found right at the second gate of the palace had this to say: “Yes death is death but this has happened at a wrong time when Malawians are almost queuing up for every basic commodity. That is the legacy the former president has left despite all the achievements he did for the country.”
Meanwhile, mourners in southern region have up until Saturday to pay last respects before the body is taken to his final resting place at Ndata farm Sunday where relatives and surrounding communities would be given an opportunity to bid farewell to the late president.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :