Malawians on Sunday commemorated Martyrs Day at Nkhata Bay where many Malawian freedom fighters were killed during the uprising in 1959 with a theme Unity in Diversity is Paramount to Development in Malawi’.
The ceremony drew together different politicians from the political divide which included State Vice President Saulos Chilima who is also UTP Party leader, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President Lazarus Chakwera and some cabinet ministers.
As usual government overlooked the presence of Chilima and made Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe as Guest of honour who was welcomed by Civic Education Minister and DPP presidential running mate Everton Chimulirenji.
Gondwe in his speech apparently refused to salute the political leaders for ‘fear of others complaining that I have not mentioned them’.
However, although the official program did not indicate that Chilima was going to lay a wreath, he was given the opportunity to do so including Chakwera and UDF president Atupele Muluzi who is also Minister of Health and Population.
Former President Joyce Banda was represented by lawmaker Beatrice Mwale.
All political parties were asked not to put on their political colors which most adhered to save for Chimulirenji who was putting on a DPP blue budge.
However, the supporters failed to hold it whenever the name of their leader was mentioned in salutations.
Many clapped hands when Chimulirenji recognized Chilima as Vice President of the Republic and MCP President Chakwera.
Representatives of some families of martyrs of the 1959 liberation struggle made during commemorations said if the freedom fighters resurrected they would be mad with the leaders for letting down Malawians due to nepotism and violence among others.
In his speech, legislator for NkhataBay South Emily Chinthu Phiri sent people into stitches when she told Finance Minister Gondwe to take concerns from people seriously and addressing them withon the “short time they have left” before the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
“Please, help the people. We cannot be talking about this now and then. I know maybe you have very little time left, but when you leave we will ask other people in government to help us,” said Phiri, a member of UTM Party.
Her remarks were made after earlier speakers accused government of neglecting families of Malawians massacred at Nkhata Bay Jetty by federal soldiers during the March 3 state of emergency.
Representative of the bereaved families James Thawe said government has shown unwillingness to truly honour the country’s martyrs, saying it shows they do not care about the concerns of those who put them in power and the killings of the martyrs who died for the freedom they are enjoying.
On his part, chairperson of the organising team of the event, Paul Nazombe said there was need for government of fund the March 3 event commemoration in Nkhatabay.
“We want Capital Hill to take over, but before that, we want recognition of the surviving families,” he said.
At the end of the ceremony while other leaders drove out quietly Chimulirenji addressed a handful of supporters near the memorial pillar blocking other motorists for about 30 minutes.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :