Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe of Rumphi has demanded an apology from President Peter Mutharika following the fracas on September 30 when members of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) wreaked havoc at the Gonapamuhanya ceremony.
However, presidential spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani has hit back, saying Mutharika has nothing to do with this and therefore, the call for him to apologise is misguided.
Chikulameyembe, speaking at a media briefing in Mzuzu on Friday through his chief advisor and spokesperson chief principal group village head Kawazamawe, expressed surprise that Mutharika was seemingly not concerned with the fracas.
During the Gonapamuhanya ceremony, DPP youth cadets clad in their party attire, threw stones at opposition party leaders that attended the cultural ceremony at Bolero in Rumphi.
During the briefing on Friday in Mzuzu, Kawazamawe said Chikulamayembe and the entire Tumbuka people were still saddened with what happened, and that Mutharika’s silence was aggravating their anger.
The visibly concerned chief stated that ruling DPP cadets started the fracas, as they challenged chiefs that they could not remove party colours because they were “government”.
“As Tumbukas, we are very disappointed with what happened. We were expecting to celebrate [our] culture, but we were insulted by the fracas. We discovered that there were some other party [DPP] officials who were influencing the boys to cause problems,” he said.
Despite Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia apologising during the event, the chief said as per tradition, the President is supposed to either go in person, or send a delegation to Chikulamayembe for a formal apology.
“He [Mutharika] leads all of us, and what happened on that day is something which has disappointed the Tumbuka people in the country, Zambia and other regions,” he added.
Chairperson of the Gonapamuhanya organising committee ceremony, chief principal group village head Chikalamba Gondwe echoed Kawazamawe.
“The DPP cadets started the problems, and therefore we ask for an apology from the President because the government side started the problem,” he said.
Other chiefs at the briefing also condemned State run Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) for twisting information on who was responsible for the fracas.
They faulted the State broadcaster for insinuating that opposition parties were responsible for the fracas, arguing, what they did was a joke “and if you don’t want to tell the truth, stop writing about it.”
While no arrests have been made so far, Chikalamba Gondwe said he was visited by six officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) from Lilongwe to inquire about the matter and he has given them a statement.
However, Kalilani said calls for Mutharika to apologise is misguided.
“If what we read in the press about the incident was correct, that fracas was between politicians of different parties who were trying to outshine each other at a cultural festival. Presumably, these politicians were invited by the organisers of the event themselves,” he said.
Kalilani wondered how the President comes into this fracas for him to apologise, further stating that the issue is between organisers of the event, politicians and the police.
During the cultural event, the Tumbuka people commemorate the first Chikulamayembe named Gonapamuhanya because of his tendency to bask in the sun after eating.