Paramount Chief Lundu was shocked and embarrassed yesterday when thousands of people who attended the funeral of Senior Chief Kabudula in Lilongwe booed him when he made ‘off-side’ political remarks.
In some of his remarks on behalf of Chewa chiefs in Malawi, Lundu apparently was on safe ground when he pointed out that the deceased—who died on Sunday after a long illness—had been an outstanding example of loyalty that traditional leaders in the country should show to the government of the day and to the presidency.
President Peter Mutharika and Vice-President Saulos Chilima were among those who attended the funeral at Kabudula’s Demera Headquarters. The two were saluted at the funeral.
Also in attendance was leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera, who is also president of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) that enjoys predominant support in the area. He, however, was not recognised during the ceremony.
While stressing that Kabudula had been a faithful friend and supporter of Mutharika, Lundu went on to utter the off-key remarks that irritated part of the crowd by insinuating that some chiefs were resisting Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-led government and preferred working with opposition elements.
“The Malawi Congress Party left the government in 1994 [after losing democratic general elections that ended the party’s three-decade one-party rule]. Don’t think MCP will be in government again,” Lundu declared.
At this point, the Paramount Chief’s speech was drowned out for several minutes by the boos from people protesting the apparent uncalled-for direct attack against the MCP.
“You see, some people are booing me… This is shameful,” Lundu reacted, after being at a loss for words for some minutes. He won back his respect when he ended his speech by steering clear of any more excessive political innuendos.
Uttering condolences on behalf of Zambia-based Chewa King Kalonga Gawa Undi, representative Feston Chigaga said Kabudula is being mourned because he quickly emerged as one of the most reliable traditional leaders the King was proud of.
He advised family members of the late chief to meet after mourning is over and amicably choose a successor, thereby avoiding a long leadership gap and chaos.
The non-political message of the Chewa King in Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique received the loudest ovation from the crowd. This seemed to set the tone among other subsequent speakers, including Mutharika’s spokesperson at the funeral, Hetherwick Ntaba.
He said the President had been deeply saddened by Kabudula’s passing because he was a loyal development-conscious leader. He advised the family to choose a successor without squabbles or court injunctions, which are common these days.