Vice-President Saulos Chilima, former President Joyce Banda, who is also leader of People’s Party (PP) and president of opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Lazarus Chakwera, were on Friday among many politicians that shunned national prayers and celebrations for the country’s 54th independence anniversary held in Mzuzu.
While Chilima’s spokesperson Pilirani Phiri opted for silence on the matter, publicity secretary for MCP, Reverend Maurice Munthali and deputy spokesperson for PP Ackson Kalaile Banda said respectively that Chakwera and Banda were not invited
Both the prayers, held at State Lodge, and celebrations at Mzuzu Stadium, were largely attended by Cabinet ministers, senior government officials, members of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and a few members of the diplomatic community.
Notable opposition leaders at the events were president of one faction of the Alliance for Democracy (Aford) Frank Mwenifumbo, former vice-president under the Joyce Banda regime Khumbo Kachali and Atupele Muluzi of the United Democratic Front (UDF).
Munthali said the event, held under the theme: ‘Celebrating Unity, Freedom and Progress, through Patriotism, Integrity and Hardwork’, was designed for DPP gurus.
He argued: “There was no official invitation for MCP president Dr Lazarus Chakwera to attend the 54th independence celebrations. So, he doesn’t have to impose himself, which is purely DPP by design.
“When MCP talks of a fair and inclusive Malawi, these are the things we do not want to see after May 2019.
On his part, Kalaile Banda said his party was surprised that the Mutharika government had personalised the event.
“Independence Day is a national event and, therefore, everybody must be invited. But as far as I know, the PP, let alone our leader Joyce Banda were not invited. The event was designed as if it was a celebration for DPP,” said Kalaile Banda.