President Peter Mutharika on Monday led Malawians into a fortnight of gratitude and generosity towards Malawian veteran soldiers who gallantly fought in the two World Wars by purchasing his inaugural poppy for a whopping K1.5 million ($27 523).
There was cheering and clapping when Mutharika, who is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces in Malawi and who is also the Patron of the Commonweath Ex-Service League of Malawi (Celom), announced that he had chosen to make his poppy a “most expensive” one to prove that the war veterans need to be saluted and appreciated for standing up to great adversity on behalf of mankind’s peace and freedom.
A high-powered delegation led by Deputy Defence Minister Reverend Malison Ndau, some senior serving and retired Malawi Defence Force (MDF) officers, Celom officials and representatives of the war veterans called on the President for the inauguration of the Poppy Week. During the week, people across the country are expected to buy poppies to enable Celom and the MDF raise funds with which to assist the veterans, who are facing various personal challenges.
“It is thus with great joy that I lead Malawians and encourage them to do something in support of the war veterans by buying this (significant) poppy flower,” Mutharika urged, pointing out that the war veterans’ gallant participation in the two World Wars helped to seal the peace in the world now.
Earlier, Retired Major General Maxton Namwali appealed to the government and other well-wishers to increase the assistance given to the war veterans, whose needs include food supplies, agricultural inputs and better health care.
He reported that the growing challenges they face have seen an increase in the deaths among some 500 veterans lately, saying 31 of them have died this year, according a recent national research.
Namwali, on the other hand, asked Mutharika to consider including some of the energetic retired soldiers and Celom members into peace-keeping missions the MDF is participating in.
There was a heart-warming moment when the President sought out and chatted with 95-year-old seargent major Siwedi Holera and 83-year old staff seargent James Matupi for several minutes after a group photograph session. The two veterans were clearly elated to have been given the Presidemt’s ear.