One of the founders of United Democratic Front (UDF) and pioneers of multi-party democracy Patrick Mbewe has asked government to start recognizing public figures by according them state funeral, expressing sadness that retired politician and neurosurgeon Dr George Nga Ntafu, who was laid to rest on Friday was not given State recognition for his contributions to the nation.
Mtafu died on 20 October 2015 at Mwaiwathu Private Hospital a few hours after being involved in a road accident when the car he was driving collided with a truck in the Malawi’s commercial city of Blantyre.
The former minister in the Bakili Muluzi regime was buried like any other ordinary person at his Ntonda farm along the Blantyre- Chikwawa road in the presence of notable people like former president BMuluzi, former Vice President Khumbo Kachali, first deputy speaker Mcheka Chilenje, minister of health Peter Kumpalule, former speaker of parliament Chimunthu Banda.
In his eulogy, Mbewe gave an example of South Africa, when footballers die they are accorded a state funeral.
“What is wrong with us? In Zambia and Mozambique when former presidents and ministers die they are all accorded state funerals. We need to stop this jealousy tendency.
“Mtafu was not just a former minister or MP but the only neurosurgeon in Malawi,” said Mbewe, amid ululation from women.
“I have a simple message to those who are in authority. I was a minister, now l am an ex-minister. Today you are a minister and tomorrow you will no longer be a minister. It is high time we start recognizing our public figures like Mtafu,” he said.
Mbewe described Mtafu as a humble person who stood for justice when he was serving as a minister and MP.
“Nga Mtafu will never agree to anything. He was not a person who would yes when the answer is no,” said Mbewe.
In his interview with the media, former president Bakili Muluzi described the late Mtafu as a man with an open heart.
“He worked very hard in my cabinet and he was also very humble. He used to like jokes and l will greatly miss him,” said Muluzi.
Minister of health, Peter Kumpalule said the nation will miss mtafu’s services, especially at ministry of health where he was Chief technical advisor.