Opposition leaders were conspicuously missing at the funeral of paramount chief in Thyolo on Wednesday as their names were as well conspicuously missing from the list of dignitaries invited for the solemn ceremony.
The death comes at a time when the country is experiencing heightened political crisis following the highly disputed May 21 presidential election.
Malawi Congress Party president Lazarus Chakwera and UTM president Saulos Chilima, leaders of the two main parties in the country did not attend the funeral ceremony.
Party officials for MCP and UTM said protocol demands that they be invited and seats are arranged in advance, saying they could not guarantee their safety if they went uninvited in view of the current hostile political atmosphere.
Speaking at the funeral ceremony, minister of Local Government and Rural Development Ben Phiri said called on politicians to put aside their political differences when calamity strikes.
“As you can see, we do not have opposition leaders here. Our fallen chief transcended beyond politics,” said Phiri.
Also missing were First Lady Gertrude Mutharika and Second Lady Judith Mutharika who are currently in UK having attended the graduation ceremony of president Peter Mutharika’s step son, Tadikira, a private trip that has cost the tax payer a whopping K100 million drawing both local and international outrage.
President Peter Mutharika attended the ceremony but could not give his eulogies, saying he was too grieved to do so.
Speaking on behalf of the president, minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Kondwani Nankhumwa who urged the Mulhakho wa Alhomwe to avoid squabbles when choosing the next Lhomwe paramount chief.
“I urge you to do it peacefully with a unity purpose. We do not want to have a long vacuum as it happened after the death of chief Mkumba because of disagreements,” he said.
Chief Ngolongoliwa was a divisive figure, who was blamed by his critics for being too partisan to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
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