For the first time in history of the July 20 memorial service, which remembers the 19 people who died during anti-government protests in 2011, organisers have not invited the Head of State to be part of the event.
In the past, organisers would extend invitations to the President to join Malawians in remembering the lives that were lost in the July 20 2011 demonstrations against economic hardships perceived dictatorial tendencies of former president Bingu wa Mutharika’s regime.
President Peter Mutharika was last year invited to be part of the event, but he delegated his adviser on civil society and non-governmental organisations(NGOs) Mavuto Bamusi.
Mutharika conveyed a touching message in which he called on bereaved families to forgive and forget the atrocities.
He said he regrets the July 20 killings and assured that he would have an audience with them to hear their grievances, a thing that has not taken place.
The families have waited in vain for the meeting and have all along been battling in court to have government compensate them for the lives lost and loss of expectations. They also planned to hold demonstrations on the memorial day this year to force government to compensate them.
However, the demonstrations have been called off on the basis that the organisers did not seek proper authority.
Instead, the families will tomorrow observe the traditional memorial service and also hold prayers at Zolozolo Cemetery in Mzuzu where some of the victims were buried.
Speaking in an interview yesterday, one of the organisers of the event, Shadreck Ngulube, to hold demonstrations but they have shelved them to a date to be announced.
Ironically, the organisers have not invited Mutharika to be part of the event. They have since invited Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president and leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera.
Ngulube said there was ill timing on the invitations. He said the President is a busy person and cannot be invited within a short period. Instead, he said, they settled for Mzuzu City MP Leonard Njikho to represent government.
Njikho said he will not make it to the event as he is out of Mzuzu.
Presidential press secretary Mgeme Kalirani confirmed that there was no invitation extended to the President but he wondered why the organisers rushed to conclude that the President is busy.
“Of course, the President’s schedule is fully booked but there are some urgent issues that are roped in. They could have their own reason for saying that. So it is hard to comment,” said Kalirani.
Chakwera, speaking through his secretary, said he was yet to get the invitation and would respond as soon as he gets it.