There was a graceless moment during the official opening of motor vehicle dealer HTD Limited’s new premises, Abdul Majid Motor City, in Blantyre yesterday when President Peter Mutharika twice ignored the presence of leader of opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera.
Chakwera, who is also Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president and finished second to Mutharika in the controversial May 20 Tripartite Elections, was one of the high-profile guests that sat on the presidential podium alongside former president Bakili Muluzi, Cabinet ministers, Chief Secretary to the Government George Mkondiwa and First Deputy Speaker of Parliament Esther Mcheka Chilenje, among others.
Upon stepping on the podium, Mutharika, one by one, hand shook some of the guests who had risen for him.
But after cheerfully shaking hands with Muluzi, he made a U-turn. Chakwera sat next to Muluzi whereas Mcheka-Chilenje was on his other side.
As if that was not all, Mutharika snubbed Chakwera again when, in his salutations at the start of his speech, he did not recognise the leader of opposition. But he recognised “representatives of political parties”.
Ironically, nearly all earlier speakers recognised the presence of Chakwera, whose party argues was robbed of victory during the May 20 Tripartite Elections that put Mutharika in power.
But in a brief interview immediately after the event, Chakwera said in life, he has learnt not to get disappointed with worldly things.
When asked about his thoughts on his snubbing, Chakwera said: “I don’t know you will have to ask him. As for me, I am me and will always be me.”
Director of ceremonies Bright Malopa earlier said the event was historical as it had brought together the President, former president and leader of opposition.
However, presidential press secretary Frederick Ndala said in an interview Mutharika did not ignore Chakwera, but failed to give him a handshake because of a barrier.
Ndala also said it was just an oversight for the President not to recognise the leader of opposition in his salutations.
And speaking about the opening of Abdul Majid Motor City, Mutharika said he was impressed with the imposing structure, which has transformed the ambiance of Ginnery Corner and the City of Blantyre.
“It is evident that the investment in the showroom will go a long way towards ensuring high customer satisfaction,” said Mutharika.
The President said the transport sector plays an important role in economic development of the country.
HTD Limited is a private local limited liability company incorporated in Malawi in 1993 and started constructing the new premises in 2004.